Rugby union in Cyprus
Rugby union in Cyprus is a minor but growing sport. The governing body is the Cyprus Rugby Federation It became affiliated to FIRA in 2006. Cypriot rugby goes back to at least the 1950s; the British military still contributes teams from the Dhekelia bases. During the 1970s, rugby union in Israel trying to break out of its isolation - both political and geographical - reached out to teams in Cyprus. Many of the teams Israelis played. In more recent times, it has been a game played by expatriates. There are several competitions including a league with teams from the British military bases and three local teams: Paphos Tigers - founded by British and South Africans. Limassol Crusaders - Founded by expats after England won in the rugby World Cup Nicosia Barbarians - The Barbarians are not playing, although the website is still up. Cypriot rugby's main ties are to European rugby; the situation in Northern Cyprus is somewhat different, with teams playing in the Turkish leagues. Rugby is not a major sport amongst Greek Cypriots, but it is less so amongst Turkish Cypriots.
Rugby Football was introduced formally in league format in the early 1980s by the British Military due to the mannerism of their structure. However the first Cypriot Club was formed in Paphos Tigers. Predominately made up of South African Cypriots they triumphed in the British Military Major Units League; the first game for Cyprus took place on 24 March 2007 at home against Greece. The Cypriot XV won 39-3. Cyprus continued their great start in international rugby by beating Azerbaijan 29-0 at the Pafiako Stadium in Paphos on 28 October 2007, they put in back-to-back victories against Monaco on 31 October 2007 and Slovakia on 3 November 2007. Having won the FIRA ENC Division 3D Tournament, they qualified for a promotion playoff against Israel; the game took place on 6 September 2008, Cyprus were defeated 23-14 and therefore remained in ENC 3D with Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina and Slovakia. Cyprus hold records over 3 nations in the division ENC 3D, by inflicting the worst defeats of Slovakia and Monaco respectively.
During the 2009 FIRA AER European Sevens Championship, Cyprus Sevens Team took part in two tournaments in Athens and Split. Their performances during these competitions led to them jumping 11 places in the FIRA rankings and are ranked 12th in Europe; the first international game of the Cyprus Rugby National Team took place on March 24, 2007 against Greece in Paphos. The Cypriot XV won the game by 39-3 in front of 2,500 fans. In October and November 2007, Cyprus beat Azerbaijan, Slovakia to win the FIRA 3D Tournament, a great achievement in their first year on the international scene. However, they lost the play-off game for promotion to level 3C on 6 September 2008 against Israel by a score of 23-14. Cyprus now play in the 2B level, after winning promotion consecutively from the 2008-2010 edition onwards. Cyprus national rugby union team FIRA-AER Cyprus page Cyprus Rugby Federation Cyprus Pumas RUFC Archives du Rugby: Chypre
Rugby union in Asia
Rugby union is a growing sport in Asia, governed by the Asian Rugby Football Union. As of December 2009 there are 28 ARFU member unions, of whom 15 are full members of the International Rugby Board, six further associate members of the IRB in Asia; the flagship tournament for promoting the sport in Asia is the Asian Five Nations, which launched in 2008, which most in 2011 saw the national teams of Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka and the UAE, compete in the main tournament. The sport in Asia is dominated by Japan, the only Asian nation to be represented on the IRB's executive council; the Japanese national team are so far the only Asian team to have competed in the Rugby World Cup, having appeared in all seven tournaments so far. Japan have been announced as the hosts of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, will be the first Asian hosts of the tournament. Under the Japanese bid, Hong Kong and Singapore will host matches; the Top League is Japan's premier rugby club competition, founded in 2003. In 2016, the Sunwolves joined the Southern Hemisphere-based Super Rugby.
The team is based in Tokyo but plays home games in Singapore. Sixteen Asian teams are full members of the International Rugby Board, though one is arguably in Oceania. There are six Asian associate members of the IRB: Like Georgia and Russia, as in football, Armenia and Israel play in Europe, though Kazakhstan does not; the Arabian Gulf Rugby Football Union existed from 1974 to 2010 and its Arabian Gulf team represented five countries: Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The 1991 World Cup was the first to operate a qualification system, the 1987 WC having been invitation-only. In the qualifying stage, Asia was given two berths. Only four countries took part. Played as a four-team round-robin, Western Samoa and Japan finished first and second courtesy of Japan's 28–16 win over Tonga, with the Japanese becoming the first Asian team to appear at the World Cup. Although they lost their first two games and did not qualify for the quarter-finals, Japan secured third spot in their group with a 52–8 win over Zimbabwe.
For the 1995 WC, Asia held its own tournament, with the winner qualifying for the finals. This time eight countries entered, were split into two groups, with the winners of each group playing each other for the single qualification berth; the final play-off saw Japan beat South Korea 26–11. The group stages showed the inequalities in the Asian game; the World Cup itself did little to showcase Asian rugby, as Japan lost every game, including a humiliating 145–17 defeat against the All Blacks. For the 1999 WC, Asia was given an extra qualification spot, albeit a repechage one; the same eight countries entered the qualification stages, but to avoid the scorelines witnessed in the previous competition, it was held on a three-stage basis. Japan again emerged victorious, with a 134–6 win over Taiwan going some way to regain the pride lost in the finals in South Africa four years earlier. South Korea took part in the repechage, beating Holland 108–45 on aggregate in the first round, before losing 140–41 over two legs to Tonga.
Japan once again lost all their games in the World Cup proper. Asia retained its single berth plus repechage spot in the 2003 WC qualifiers; this time, eleven teams took part, with the Arabian Gulf and Kazakhstan joining the fray. Before Japan and South Korea entered the competition, the other nine teams were split into three round-robin pools, with the winners playing another round-robin with the top team going on to the final pool with Japan and South Korea, which would decide the automatic and repechage qualifying spots. Japan again emerged victorious, beating their previous score against Taiwan in a 155–3 win at home, followed by a 120–3 scoreline in the away match. South Korea again finished second thrashing Taiwan 119–7, repeated their previous repechage performance, losing 194–0 over two legs to the Tongans. Thirteen teams competed in the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2007 WC, Guam and India joining the competition for the first time. Another new format was tried. In the second round, the top two of Division One and the winner of Division Two would form Division One, whilst the bottom team of Division One, the second in Division Two, the winner of a play-off between the Division 3a and Division 3b champions would form Division Two.
In the third round, the top two from Division One and the winner of Division Two would play a round-robin to decide the final placings. Hong Kong and Korea formed Division One, with Hong Kong finishing bottom and replaced by Arabian Gulf, who had won Division Two. Taiwan finished bottom of Division Two, were replaced by Sri Lanka, winners of the 3a-3b play-off over Kazakhstan. In the second round, Arabian Gulf finished bottom of Division One, were replaced in the final round by Hong Kong, who won Division Two (
Rugby union in Israel
Rugby union in Israel was brought to the country by British soldiers during the British Mandate for Palestine. Rugby Israel was founded as the Israel Rugby Union in 1975, joined the IRB in 1988. For political reasons it is part of FIRA-AER, the European rugby body, rather than the Asian Rugby Football Union. Rugby union was brought to the country by British soldiers during the Mandate era. Around the same time, there was an influx of Jews from various parts of the British Commonwealth and the Francophonie who tried to establish the game. In the 1950s, Leo Camron, a former player for Natal, organised teams amongst the various immigrants, within the IDF. Post-War rugby found a new advocate in South African Leo Camron. A graduate of Natal University, Camron was a former artillery captain of the South African Army who had served in the North African campaigns of WWII, went to Palestine to join Machal and fight in the Israeli War of Independence. In South Africa, Camron had played for the Natal rugby team.
In 1951, succeeded in obtaining an appointment in the sports department of the IDF. In 1952, Camron organised independent Israel's first rugby match, between a group of South Africans, a team of parachutists in the IDF; the South Africans won 18-6. The match ball was somewhat unusual; the game proved popular in the IDF, thanks to its emphasis on aggression and team tactics. Camron soon organised other games between soldiers, immigrants from the British Commonwealth. Camron made an attempt to get the IDF to adopt the game, but was unsuccessful due to institutional bureaucracy; this was a bitter blow to his campaign, led to him taking a more passive role in Israeli rugby, until his death in 2007. Israeli rugby went into decline during the 1960s, until in the 1970s, a new wave of immigrants from rugby playing countries arrived from South Africa. A major focus for the Israeli game was the Kibbutz Yizre'el near Afula in the north west of the country, which had a number of South Africans living in it.
It garnered an interest in areas with large English-speaking populations such as Ra'anana in west Central Israel and Jerusalem. A national league was set up in 1972, the Israel Rugby Union formed in 1975. Israel's first international match was away to Switzerland on 25 May 1981, ended 9-9. Israel rugby in this period countered its isolation, by building up contacts with British military teams based in Cyprus, teams and organisations based in South Africa and France; the game was given a further shot in the arm when it was included in the four-yearly Maccabiah Games in 1981 - the so-called "Jewish Olympics" - in 1993, it was won by a South African national Jewish side. The high point of Israeli rugby has been seen as their shock 67-8 win against Hungary in the World Cup Qualifiers, which did much to promote the sport within Israel. In 1989, Chris Thau claims that Israel had eight clubs, around 400 players. Israel has entered the Rugby World Cup Sevens. 70% of Israeli players are now locally born.
The national team is in the third tier of international rugby. Their first match was away to Switzerland on 25 May 1981, ended 9-9, they participated in the European section of the qualifying rounds for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. In a group with Denmark and Switzerland, Israel lost all three matches, but were by no means humiliated. In the qualifying matches for the 1995 World Cup, Israel thrashed Hungary 67-8 in the preliminary round, before being knocked out in the Round 1 group stage, failing to score a point in two of their three games; the qualifying matches for the 1999 Rugby World Cup followed the established pattern, with Israel being knocked out in the group stage, though they avoided finishing bottom of their five-team group by beating Austria. The same happened in the 2003 WC qualifiers. In the 2007 WC qualifiers they did not make it to the group stage, being thrashed 113-7 on aggregate by Lithuania. In April 2007, they were ranked 93rd out of 95 IRB member nations, their home ground is at Wingate Institute.
Rugby is most popular amongst English speaking immigrants those from South Africa and the UK, a lesser extent New Zealand and North America. There are players from other parts of the world France, Italy and other parts of Europe where the game is popular. Rugby has a low take up rate amongst the Arab Israeli population, Mizrachi, although some originate in countries such as Morocco and Tunisia with a significant rugby tradition. There is at least one Druze player and some Christians, but the game does not appear to be popular amongst Muslims. With the exception of Beit Jala Lions, based in Bethlehem, there is little rugby to speak of in the West Bank or Gaza, contact with neighbouring Arab communities is low; the first league was set up in 1972 with five clubs, was played over the 1972/3 season. The league was run by the players themselves, but in a general meeting in 1975, it was decided to set up a committee to run the game. Since the league has fluctuated between six and ten teams, with six members at the start of the 2006/7 season: There are four women's teams.
Although Israel's women have not yet played test match rugby, they have been playing international sevens rugby since 2005.. Sports in Israel Jamie Heaslip Rugby Israel Tel Aviv Rugby Club Rug
Rugby union in Taiwan
Rugby union in Taiwan is a significant sport. For political reasons, they compete as Chinese Taipei, they are ranked 61st, have 3040 registered players. The Taiwanese Rugby Union was founded in 1946, joined the IRFB in 1986. Concerning its foundation, the efforts of Ke Zhi-Zhang cannot be overlooked. Rugby in Taiwan goes back to the turn of the 20th century, when the island was known as "Formosa", it has been claimed that it was being played earlier by European sailors. Unlike the PRC, rugby union has an unbroken history in Taiwan, but the Chinese Civil War and souring of relations with the mainland has meant it was cut off; the game has a long presence in this part of Asia Japan and Hong Kong. Rugby was played in Shanghai at an early date, is played to a high degree in South Korea. Right now, Taiwan is no. 4 in Asia, behind South Korea and Hong Kong. Not unlike South Korea, Taiwanese rugby has grown with the local economy, has been tied up with corporate interests. Growing economic links with Japan, a major rugby playing nation, have helped the game in Taiwan from the 1960s to the present.
Another thing that Taiwan has in common with South Korea is that it has always performed better at rugby sevens than the fifteen a side game. During the 70s and 80s, Taiwanese rugby underwent a big development programme, addressing issues such as the shortage of pitches. However, Taiwanese rugby is not short of other resources, administrators such as Lin Chang Tang have been a great boon. Traditionally, Taiwan has suffered from a shortage of pitches. Taiwan is considered to be the fourth rugby nation of East Asia, after Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong although developments in the PRC and Malaysia may change that position. Notable Taiwanese players include - Chae Wei Che Chang Chyi Ming Tseng Chi Ming Because Taiwan's relationship with the People's Republic of China is an complex one, it competes under the name Chung Hua Taipei or "Chinese Taipei", rather than as either Taiwan or the Republic of China; because of political issues, with some commentators trying to work out how the entry of the PRC into international rugby would affect Taiwan's position.
When the PRC joined the UN, it resulted in the expulsion of Taiwan. Chinese Taipei national rugby union team Chinese Taipei national rugby sevens team IRB Taiwan page Official Union Page Rugby in Asia, Taiwan page Taiwan rugby monument Asian Rugby Football Union Taiwan Rugby Union Archives du Rugby: Taiwan
Rugby union in India
Rugby union is a minor sport in India. However, it is a fast-growing sport. Rugby union is the second most popular winter sport after association football in India, which itself trails in popularity to cricket and field hockey. India is World Rugby Rankings|rated 77th in the rugby playing nations as of May 2016; the IRFU has 24,010 registered players. This is their highest ranking ever. India is the current Division 3 South-Central title holder in the Asia Rugby Championship; the governing body is the Indian Rugby Football Union. India, like many other countries, had a few forms of folk football. Most of these have died out. Emma Levine, an English writer on little-known Asian sports, speculates: "Perhaps this was the root of modern rugby? Most Manipuris are quite adamant that the modern world'stole' the idea from them and made it into rugby... this game, around for centuries, is so similar to rugby, which evolved a great deal that it must be more than a coincidence."However, traditional football games can be found in many parts of the world, e.g. marn grook in Australia, cuju in China and calcio Fiorentino in Italy and Levine provides no documentary or material evidence of its antiquity.
Like other sports founded in England and brought to India during the British Raj such as cricket, rugby union has a long history in India. The earliest trace of Rugby Football in India dates back to a scratch match or two played in Calcutta and Madras during the visit of H. M. S. Galatea in 1871; the teak goal posts used on the occasion of the Calcutta Match were afterward used by the C. F. C. Up to at least 1886; the first recorded match was played on Christmas Day 1872, at CFC in Calcutta, it was played between England and a combined team of Scotland and Wales. The game had to be repeated within the week; the game was now established. In January 1873, officers were appointed and the Club Rolls gave a total of 137 members; the Club colours were chosen as white, broad stripes. From on, rugby in India, lingered on at a low key. Part of the reason for this was that the British preferred to play apart from their colonial subjects, leading to a low take up by the local population. Another reason was the climate, which meant that games would have to be played in the evenings or early morning, which meant that it was not too popular with the colonists themselves.
At its lowest ebb, in the 1980s, the Indian RFU was being run out of the Irish Consulate at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club's chambers. However, a successful campaign in the 1990s put the game back on its feet. Indian delegates were amongst those who went to the centenary congress of the International Rugby Football Board in 1986. There are 57,000 registered players in the country and India are ranked 65th out of 96 nations in the IRB world rankings; the home of rugby in India is considered to be Kolkata. On Christmas Day 1872, a game of rugby, between 20 players representing England on the one side and 20 representing Scotland and Wales on the other, was played in Calcutta; the match was such a success that it was repeated a week — the game of rugby had reached India. These lovers of rugby wanted to form a club in the area and the aforementioned matches were the agents which led to the formation of the Calcutta Football Club in January 1873; the Calcutta Club joined the Rugby Football Union in 1874.
Despite the Indian climate not being suitable for playing rugby, the club prospered during that first year. However, when the free bar had to be discontinued, the membership took an appreciable drop. Other sports, such as tennis and polo, which were considered to be more suited to the local climate, were making inroads into the numbers of players available. In 1877 the game declined and died out, leaving behind a full coffer; the wise G. A. J. Rothney, acting as Captain, Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Club at that time, proposed that the funds should be devoted to the purchase of a cup of Indian workmanship to be offered to the Rugby Football Union- the parent body of the game worldwide; the withdrawal of these monies was done in the form of silver coins which were melted to craft the exquisite Calcutta Cup. The members decided to disband but keen to perpetuate the name of the club, they withdrew the club's funds from the bank; the cup is of Indian workmanship 18 inches high, the body is finely engraved with three king cobras forming the handles.
The domed lid is surmounted by an elephant which is, it is said, copied from the Viceroy's own stock and is complete with a howdah. The inscription on the Cup's wooden base reads: THE CALCUTTA CUP; this historical legacy has not been universally well-received, in fact, Sean Smith, whose book The Union Game: A Rugby History accompanied the BBC TV series of the same name, has said of it that: "It speaks volumes for the traditions of class prejudice in England and Scotland that the two countries play each year for a trophy made in the Raj." In 1884 Calcutta Cricket and Football Club again set up a rugby section and in 1890 set up an inter club trophy, the Calcutta Rugby Union Challenge Cup, promptly christened the Calcutta Cup. The cup is held by Jungle Crows who beat CC&FC; the second division trophy was won by Football Club Panthers. The All India and South Asia Rugby Tournament is an amateur league competition for rugby union football clubs in India; the competition has bee
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, sometimes called the Emirates, is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates. Human occupation of the present UAE has been traced back to the emergence of anatomically modern humans from Africa some 125,000 BCE through finds at the Faya-1 site in Mleiha, Sharjah. Burial sites dating back to the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age include the oldest known such inland site at Jebel Buhais.
Known as Magan to the Sumerians, the area was home to a prosperous Bronze Age trading culture during the Umm Al Nar period, which traded between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia as well as Iran and the Levant. The ensuing Wadi Suq period and three Iron Ages saw the emergence of nomadism as well as the development of water management and irrigation systems supporting human settlement in both the coast and interior; the Islamic age of the UAE dates back to the expulsion of the Sasanians and the subsequent Battle of Dibba. The UAE's long history of trade led to the emergence of Julfar, in the present day emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, as a major regional trading and maritime hub in the area; the maritime dominance of the Persian Gulf by Emirati traders led to conflicts with European powers, including the Portuguese and British. Following decades of maritime conflict, the coastal emirates became known as the Trucial States with the signing of a Perpetual Treaty of Maritime Peace with the British in 1819, which established the Trucial States as a British Protectorate.
This arrangement ended with independence and the establishment of the United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971 following the British withdrawal from its treaty obligations. Six emirates joined the UAE in 1971, the seventh, Ras Al Khaimah, joined the federation on 10 February 1972. Islam is the official religion and Arabic is the official language of the UAE; the UAE's oil reserves are the seventh-largest in the world while its natural gas reserves are the world's seventeenth-largest. Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the UAE, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare and infrastructure; the UAE's economy is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, while its most populous city of Dubai is an important global city and an international aviation and maritime trade hub. The country is much less reliant on oil and gas than in previous years and is economically focusing on tourism and business; the UAE government does not levy income tax although there is a system of corporate tax in place and value added tax was established in 2018 at 5%.
The UAE's rising international profile has led to it being recognised as a regional and a middle power. It is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Gulf Cooperation Council; the land of the Emirates has been occupied for thousands of years. Stone tools recovered from Jebel Faya in the emirate of Sharjah reveal a settlement of people from Africa some 127,000 years ago and a stone tool used for butchering animals discovered at Jebel Barakah on the Arabian coast suggests an older habitation from 130,000 years ago. There is no proof of contact with the outside world at that stage, although in time lively trading links developed with civilisations in Mesopotamia and the Harappan culture of the Indus Valley; this contact persisted and became wide-ranging motivated by the trade in copper from the Hajar Mountains, which commenced around 3,000 BCE. Sumerian sources talk of the UAE as home to Magan people. There are six major periods of human settlement with distinctive behaviours in the pre-Islamic UAE, which includes the Hafit period from 3,200-2,600 BCE.
From 1,200 BC to the advent of Islam in Eastern Arabia, through three distinctive Iron Ages and the Mleiha period, the area was variously occupied by Achaemenid and other forces and saw the construction of fortified settlements and extensive husbandry thanks to the development of the falaj irrigation system. In ancient times, Al Hasa adjoined Greater Oman. From the second century AD, there was a movement of tribes from Al Bahreyn towards the lower Gulf, together with a migration among the Azdite Qahtani and Quda'ah tribal groups from south-west Arabia towards central Oman; the spread of Islam to the North Eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula is thought to have followed directly from a letter sent by the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, to the rulers of Oman in 630 AD, nine years after the hijrah. This led to a group of rulers travelling to Medina, converting to Islam and subsequently driving a successful u
Rugby union in Russia
Rugby union in Russia is a moderately popular sport. Russia is ranked 18th worldwide by the World Rugby, having over three hundred clubs and close to 22,000 players nationally. Russia has a professional domestic competition; the Rugby Union of Russia is the governing body for rugby union in Russia. It was founded in 1936 as the Rugby Union of the Soviet Union, a Russian body was set up in 1966; the Rugby Union of Russia became affiliated to the International Rugby Board in 1990. Rugby football in the Russian Empire pre-dated the Russian Revolution by a number of years, but it was only played sporadically, it appears to have been the first football code to be played in Russia, around a decade before the introduction of association football. Mr Hopper, a Scotsman, who worked in Moscow arranged a match in the 1880s. In 1886, the Russian police clamped down on rugby because they considered it "brutal, liable to incite demonstrations and riots" Condemnation by the tsar's police deterred many people from playing, records of rugby over the next thirty years are sparse.
Some rugby union was still being played in 1908, however the first "official" match took place in Moscow in 1923. Because of the Russian Revolution, some Soviet/Russian players emigrated and/or ended up playing for foreign sides, a notable example being Prince Alexander Obolensky who played for Oxford and England in the 1930s - he was the scorer of 2 tries on his England debut in their win over New Zealand in January 1936, his noble birth precluded him from playing in his home country and his family had fled the country when he was only a year old. In 1934 the Moscow Championship was started, in 1936 the first Soviet Championship took place; the game was more or less banned for a number of years in the Soviet Union because of an incident in a final in Moscow, when supporters of Llanelli and a Bucharest team were involved in a brawl. According to popular myth, in 1949 rugby union was forbidden in the USSR during the "fight against the cosmopolitanism"; the competitions were resumed in 1957, the Soviet Championship in 1966.
In 1975 the Soviet national team played their first match. Although there was the Soviet Cup and the Soviet Championship, rugby never became a major sport in the USSR. Union was the bigger of the two codes though - rugby league only took off in the former Soviet Union after the collapse of Communism; when the Soviet Union broke up, there were two main consequences - firstly the loss of a much larger pool of players and fans, secondly, the defection of many players to rugby league, frowned on by the Soviet authorities. The two main areas for Russian rugby were to be Moscow and Siberia, to a lesser extent, Leningrad/St Petersburg; the most notable Russian player is Igor Mironov who played for the Barbarians several times during the 1980s. Vasily Artemyev played for Northampton Saints in the English Premiership. Russian language terminology for Rugby union positions In 1978, Russia set the record for one of the coldest matches to be played, when Krasnoyarsk played Polyechika Alma at -23' C; because Krasnoyarsk had travelled over 2,000 km to be there, the game was not called off.
Instead, players resorted to wearing balaclavas and several pairs of tracksuits to combat the cold. Nonetheless, the extreme climate of Russia remains a problem, with winter sometimes being a split season, or the game of snow rugby being played. Although association football is the most popular spectator sport in Russia, rugby has been growing in terms of player base, spectator interest and media coverage in recent years. Rugby's rise into mainstream media happened a few years ago when the Heineken Cup, a club tournament in Europe, was given television coverage on the 7TV sports channel. 7TV broadcast the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Subsequently, Russia's domestic championship, the Professional Rugby League, has earned weekly coverage on the RTR-Sport channel, though the games are not shown live. In addition to television coverage, rugby now features in mainstream news publications. In early 2006, RTR-Sport purchased the rights to cover the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In 2007 Moscow made an unsuccessful bid to host the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens.
It was announced in February 2009 that the Rugby Union of Russia would again bid to host the Rugby World Cup Sevens, in 2013. After two other bidders withdrew, leaving Russia the only country with an active bid, Russia was named as host in May 2010. Russia hosted the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy, the IRB's second-tier international competition for under-20 men's teams, in 2010; the main club competition in Russia is the Professional Rugby League, a professional competition. The competing clubs are VVA Saracens from Monino in Moscow Oblast and Slava from Moscow, Enisei-STM and Krasny Yar both from Krasnoyarsk, RC Penza, RC Novokuznetsk, Universitet from Chita Oblast. There Top League and First League below the Professional Rugby League possessing a mixture of professional, semi-professional and amateur teams; the Six Nations B known as the European Nations Cup is similar to the Six Nations Championship. Russia finished third in the 2001 and 2001–02 competitions and second in the 2007–08 and 2008–10 competitions.
Their second-place finish in 2008–10 secured Russia's first appearance in the Rugby World Cup, which took place in 2011 in New Zealand. The Nations Cup was introduced by the IRB in 2006, in which Russia and Portugal along with Argentina A and Italy A competed in Portugal; the Super Cup was an annual international rugby union competition contested by natio