Russia national rugby league team

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Nickname The Bears
Governing body Russian Rugby League
Region Europe
Head coach Igor Ovchinnikov
Captain Denis Korolev
Home stadium Naro-Fominsk
RLIF ranking 16th
First international
 France 26–6 USSR Soviet Union
(Villeurbanne, France; September 1991)
Biggest win
 Lebanon 0–80 Russia 
(Moscow, Russia; 28 September 2008)
Biggest defeat
 Australia 110–4 Russia 
(Hull, England; 4 November 2000)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (first time in 2000)
Best result Group Stages, 2000

The Russia national rugby league team (also known as The Bears) represent Russia in international rugby league tournaments and other rugby league fixtures. The Bears, played their first fixtures against two British club sides: York Wasps and Fulham RLFC. In 2013, Russia became a full member of the Rugby League International Federation.



The Russia Bears were formed in 1991 for a tour of two English teams, the York Wasps and Fulham RLFC.

The Bears played their first overseas match in 1991 against the French national team at the Stade Georges Lyvet, Villeurbanne on Sunday, 27 October 1991. The Bears were beaten 26-6 by France. Later that year, the Bears toured South Africa to play a three-match series against South Africa.

France continued to assist the game in the former Soviet Union by touring in 1993, winning 30-14 in Moscow against the Bears and 34-14 against Moldova.

1994 was the most important year to date for the Bears, marking their first international victory against the USA Tomahawks, in San Francisco. In 1995, Russia competed in the Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament but only managed to win one game during the tournament, defeating the Americans 28-26.

Overseas teams would not return to Russia until 1998, when a youth tournament was held in Moscow. The Bears would have to wait until 2000 to play another international, when they played France in the lead-up to the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.


The 2000 RLWC provided the Bears with the opportunity to compete with the international heavyweights of rugby league: England and Australia. Also in their group was Fiji, who the Bears played first up in Barrow. Led by Sydney Roosters prop Ian Rubin, who was born in Odessa, Ukraine, the Bears were involved in a tight struggle and it was Fijian captain, winger Lote Tuquri, who proved to be the difference between the two sides, with Fiji winning 38-12. The next two games were against opponents who proved to be beyond the Russians, with two big defeats at the hands of the English national team and a record 110-4 defeat by the Australians.

In 2002, Russia hosted Moscow's first rugby league international. The match was shown in full on national television, and was the first rugby league international to be played on artificial turf. Their opponents, the USA Tomahawks, were outclassed by the Bears to the tune of 54-10, in front of a crowd bordering 30,000.

The Russian side went on a four-match tour of New Zealand's south island in 2004.[1]

In 2006, Russia were involved in Europe Round One, defeating Netherlands national rugby league team and Serbia national rugby league team to finish second and keep their World Cup dream alive. They then went through to Europe Round Two in Europe Pool Two with Ireland and Lebanon. Russia lost all 4 games against them and did not qualify on those grounds. Ireland qualified as group winners to go through to the 2008 World Cup, with the runner up Lebanon entering the Repecharge round.

In 2008, the Bears competed in the first-ever RLEF Euro Med Challenge, competing against Serbia and Lebanon. They won both games and emrged as victors of the competition.


In 2010, after a year out of competition, the Bears competed in the Rugby League European Shield, topping the table after wins against Ukraine and Latvia.

In 2011 Russia were involved in the European qualifying group that featured Russia themselves, Italy, Serbia, and Lebanon. They lost both of their games against Italy and Lebanon ultimately ending their dreams for a second world cup tournament. On the flip side, Russia beat Serbia to finish third in the group, resulting in the Bears avoiding a winless qualifying campaign.

In 2012-2013, the Bears competed in the Rugby League European Shield winning five games out of six to take the shield.

Russia participated in the qualification for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The first stage of qualifying involved having to finish in the top 3 in their 2014–15 European Shield competition. Russia qualified for the 'final qualification tournament' after finishing the European Shield in second position. In the final round of qualification, Russia took on Spain at Fili Stadium in Moscow, and Ireland in Bray, in a bid to qualify for their second World Cup appearance.


For all past and present players who have appeared for the national team, see Russia national rugby league team players.

Current squad[edit]

The following players were called up for the Russian team in 2015:

2015 Russia Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain

Updated: 24 May 2015
Source(s): European Championship 2015

Tournament history[edit]

Russia has participated in:


Below is table of the official representative rugby league matches played by Russia at test level up until 2012:

Team First Played Played Win Draw Loss Last Meeting
 Australia 2000 1 0 0 1 2000
 Cook Islands 1995 1 0 0 1 1995
 England 2000 3 0 0 3 2004
 France 1991 8 0 0 8 2005
 Fiji 2000 1 0 0 1 2000
 Germany 2012 1 1 0 0 2012
 Ireland 2004 3 1 0 2 2007
 Italy 2011 1 0 0 1 2011
 Latvia 2010 1 1 0 0 2010
 Lebanon 2006 3 1 0 2 2008
 Netherlands 2006 1 1 0 0 2006
 Ukraine 2010 2 2 0 0 2011
 United States 1994 5 5 0 0 2004
 Scotland 1995 1 0 0 1 1992
 Serbia 2006 2 2 0 0 2008
 South Africa 1992 2 2 0 0 1992
 Wales 2003 1 0 0 1 2003

Results and fixtures[edit]

For all past match results, see the team's results page.
Official Rankings as of November 2016[2]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Increase  Australia
2 Decrease  New Zealand
3 Steady  England
4 Increase  Scotland
5 Decrease  Samoa
6  France
7  Fiji
8  Ireland
9  Wales
10 Steady  United States
11  Serbia
12 Increase  Canada
13  Italy
14 Decrease  Tonga
15  Papua New Guinea
16 Increase  Russia
17 Decrease  Jamaica
18  Belgium
19 Steady  Spain
20  Malta
21  Lebanon
22 Increase  Ukraine
23  Germany
24  Czech Republic
25 Decrease  Cook Islands
26 Steady  Norway
27  Denmark
28  Greece
29  Sweden
30  Netherlands
31  South Africa
32 Increase  Niue
33 Decrease  Philippines
34 Steady  Chile
35  Vanuatu
36  Latvia
37  Solomon Islands
38  Hungary
39  El Salvador
40  Morocco



  • France def. USSR 26-6 (1991)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ AP (13 April 2004). "Russia lose to New Zealand side". Daily Times. Pakistan. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2011. 
  2. ^ [1]

External links[edit]