Rugby World Cup
Russia eyeing debut RWC victory
ESPNscrum Staff
August 7, 2011
Russia scrum-half Andrey Bykanov makes a break, Italy 'A' v Russia, Churchill Cup, Kingsholm, Gloucester, England, June 12, 2011
Russia scrum-half Andrey Bykanov makes a break against Italy A in during the Churchill Cup this year © Getty Images

Russia have set the goal of winning one match when they make their Rugby World Cup debut in New Zealand.

Coach Nikolai Nerush says his team are targeting victory in their opening Pool C fixture against the USA on September 15 prior to matches against Italy, Ireland and Australia.

Russia, who are currently preparing for the tournament in a gruelling three-week training camp in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, narrowly lost to the USA at the Churchill Cup in June. But Nerush is confident that his squad, which includes Northampton recruit Vasili Artemyev and Sale newcomer Andrei Ostrikov, can prevail in their opening fixture in New Plymouth.

"We go to New Zealand with a simple goal in mind -- hoping to win one match," Nerush told Reuters. "They beat us recently," he said, referring to last month's 39-22 defeat by the U.S. at the Churchill Cup in England. "But we feel that the two teams are evenly matched and it would be our best chance to get a win. As for the other three teams in our group, they're all in a different league."

"In other team sports like soccer, smaller nations have at least a chance to play big powers in qualifying, either for the World Cup or European Championship. But rugby is different. Take the Six Nations tournament for example -- it's like an exclusive club.

"So the World Cup is our only chance to face major teams but the gulf in class is so huge that it often becomes a mismatch."

Russia qualified for the Rugby World Cup following their 21-21 draw with Romania in the European Nations Cup.

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