Nickname: BearsCaptain: Nikolay NerushCoach: Vladislav KorshunovRWC Appearances: First in 2011HistoryRugby union has been played in Russia since at least 1936, when the Rugby Union of the Soviet Union was formed, but Russian players only got their first taste of Test rugby in 1974, when the Soviet Union played its first international match. By the mid-1980's the USSR rugby team had become a force in Europe, regularly beating teams such as Italy and Romania, and was invited to the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987. However, the team declined the invitation due to political reasons - one of which was South Africa's continued membership of the IRB. The first Russian national team took to the field on 6 June 1992, a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and beat the Barbarians 27-23. After the victory in their first game Russia then went on somewhat of a winning streak, defeating Belgium, Germany, Georgia and Poland in succession. However, their run of wins was ended in November 1993 when Italy defeated them 30-19. The 5 game winning streak in the early 1990s remains Russia longest run of wins to this day and the 2011 Rugby World Cup is the first they have qualified for since their independence. The team did not come close to qualifying for the 1995 and 1999 World Cups and were expelled from the qualifying rounds of the 2003 Rugby World Cup after fielding three South African players. The Rugby Union of Russian claimed that the players had qualified for Russian citizenship through ancestry, but could not provide proof to the IRB. Russia were defeated by Portugal (26-23) in Lisbon in their final match of the 2007 Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament which sent the Portuguese into the World Cup. The Bears qualified for the 2011 World Cup after a 21-21 draw with Romania secured third place in the their pool. Squad Forwards: Denis Antonov, Vladimir Botvinnikov, Adam Byrnes, Artem Fatakhov, Andrey Garbuzov, Viatcheslav Grachev, Victor Gresev, Alexander Khrokin, Vladislav Korshunov, Evgenii Matveev, Andrey Ostrikov, Sergey Popov, Ivan Prishchepenko, Mikhail Sidorov, Alexey Travkin, Valeriy Tsnobiladze, Alexander Voytov. Backs: Vasily Artemyev, Mikhail Babaev, Andrey Bykanov, Igor Galinovskiy, Igor Klyuchnikov, Yury Kushnarev, Andrey Kuzin, Alexey Makovetskiy, Vladimir Ostroushko, Konstantin Rachkov, Alexander Shakirov, Denis Simplikevich, Alexander Yanyushkin. Key Player Vasily Artemiev Height: 1.82mWeight: 87kgsArtemiev has a solid rugby background, having spent time in the Leinster Schools, Ireland Schools teams and Ireland Under 19 teams, is a player with a bright future. The winger will join the Northampton Saints after the World Cup.