Currenlty travelling with the Russian Bears for the Summer Internationals, Melbourne Rebels Adam Byrnes caught up with his teammate Victor Gresev to talk about all things rugby.
Name: Victor Gresev
Nickname(s): Piter (because he is from ST Petersburg)
Club Team: Just finished at London Wasps – Now in negotiations with other clubs
Representative: Russia National team both xv and 7’s
How/Why did you start playing rugby?
When I was 13 years old, a rugby coach came to my school and asked me along with about 30 other kids to come to a training session. After the 1st training session I really liked the game rugby. It was for a club side and he was after new players. Everything was new to us kids, he gave us the ball which we had never seen before and said you must run forward and pass backwards. They were the only instructions. I scored 3 tries during that training practice. I liked it, so after that I kept playing. He was my 1st coach.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
What has been your biggest disappointment?
After the RWC I had an opportunity to train with the London Wasps. My biggest disappointment was training with them for a season and never getting an opportunity to play. Because we don’t have EU passports we are foreign players in Europe and it makes it harder for teams to field us.
What is your favourite stadium to play in?
I enjoyed playing at Nelson, NZ at the RWC. We played there against Italy and Australia. My daughter, my 1st child, was born the night before we played Italy and I got man of the match at Nelson. I also got man of the match against the Wallabies so that stadium is pretty special to me.
Did you enjoy last year’s Rugby World Cup?
Yes of course. It was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience. Everything about it was an experience of a lifetime.
What do you think of Russia’s future on the world rugby stage?
I think that for Russia to develop, more Russian players must go train and play for European clubs to gain experience. In the Russian National Championship the players stay on the same level, they need to go improve. It we have more players who play for better clubs we will have a good future. In Russia, there are only about 3 clubs who are competitive and the others are easy to beat.
Where would you like to see rugby in Russia in 10 years?
I would like to see Russia qualify for all future RWC’s. At the moment Rugby is only played in Moscow and Krasnoyarsk. There need to be more teams in the National Championship. I want to see teams from more cities play in the National Championship. It needs to expand. I want to see a team from my hometown St Petersburg.
What advice would you give to kids who dream of playing rugby for Russia?
They need to truly love what they are doing. Whether it is training or playing. They must want to do extra work, they must be hungry. They must NEED it. Not oh, I must do it because I have to. They must be enthusiastic.