THE 110-4 scoreline in favour of Australia at the 2000 World Cup in Europe suggests the Russian Bear was a timid beast indeed.
The Australia v Russia match at ‘The Boulevard’ stadium in Hull, England was a proud occasion for Brisbane Broncos star, Gorden Tallis who captained his country for the first and only time.
And despite the yawning chasm in class between the two sides, there were signs that rugby league in Russia might have a future, with Local Government recognition and backing in Moscow a huge positive in the battle with the more established rugby union.
Now union again has the upper hand with Moscow to host the Sevens World Cup in June.
Sevens Rugby’s acceptance as an Olympic sport poses huge problems for League’s plans for expansion, because there is little or nothing the code can do to counter the lure of the Olympics.
Sevens Rugby, as it stands, is played largely by anonymous players, and that is where league’s proposed Nines tournament could prove a hit if established NRL stars are available.
Sonny Bill Williams could be back in union by the time the Nines Tournament is played early in 2014, with the notorious code hopper hinting that the 2016 Olympic Games are in his sights.
I have covered a number of League Sevens tournaments, and while the experience was largely enjoyable, it really was a bit of a yawn for much of the two days.
Most youngsters raised on league, just like their AFL counterparts, dream of winning a grand final, and the season long march to glory will keep the game strong.
But in terms of spreading the gospel, the last thing League’s cash strapped International body needed was Sevens acceptance as an Olympic Sport.