Russia set sights on Sevens World Cup
On 28-30 June 2013, the sixth Rugby World Cup Sevens will take place in Moscow, Russia, at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Before then, however, eight HSBC Sevens World Series remain for teams to use as preparation before they compete for the Melrose Cup, beginning with this weekend's 2012 Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens.
For one team competing at 7he Sevens on 30 November-1 December the tournament is a chance to showcase their potential as the only non-core team competing - next year's hosts, Russia.
"For us the Dubai Sevens is a very big challenge," said Russia's Victor Gresev.
"We have a tough pool with New Zealand, Wales, and Argentina. But I like to play against the top level teams, and this is a big opportunity for us to show that Russia can play Sevens.
"We will have to play very well and show that we can, to not be like schoolboys against these top teams. We know we can do this, and if we do hopefully we can win."
Gresev was a member of the first-ever Russian side to qualify and compete at a Rugby World Cup, when he traveled to New Zealand last year, along with three other members of the current Russia Sevens squad.
What Vladimir Ostroushko, Igor Klyuchnikov and Denis Simplikevich all witnessed was a country passionate about rugby, and a tournament Gresev is hoping his country can emulate.
"Last year I was at the RWC 2011 in New Zealand," added Gresev.
"The World Cup was great, and it was good experience for us as a side. I think and hope all the players coming to Moscow next year will think the same.
"In New Zealand everybody loves Rugby, from schoolchildren to grandfathers. Everybody spoke only about rugby, rugby, rugby.
"In Russia, it is not currently like this. There is also football and ice hockey, rugby is not that popular, but I hope the RWC Sevens will help rugby grow."
Russia were one of nine teams to qualify directly for RWC Sevens 2013, and have since been joined by 14 who have qualified through regional tournaments.
One qualification tournament remains, in Rio de Janeiro in February next year where the final team will join the 24-team competition.
You can see Russia in action as tickets to this year’s Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens are available now online through www.dubairugby7s.com and from selected Costa and MMI outlets, Virgin Megastores, Emirates Group Headquarters, dnata offices and at 7he Sevens.