The question on many people’s lips last Tuesday was “just who is this Russian Ron Burgundy lookalike onscreen speaking in an Irish accent about surviving and even enjoying a physical Samoan
onslaught in Japan?”
The answer of course is national captain Vasily Artemyev – a man winning the hearts of the rugby world by leading his team with an incredibly positive energy.
Artemyev has captained Russia 32 times and scored 30 tries, both records.
He played in all four matches in the 2011 World Cup and scored a try against Ireland - the country where he acquired his unique accent while playing rugby as a student at University College
Artemyev’s positive attitude, unbridled enthusiasm, and genuine sportsmanship, while leading a relatively unknown team on rugby's biggest stage have made him a star of the tournament.
One could have forgiven the Moscow native for conducting a less than cheerful interview after facing a Samoan team whose bone-crunching tackles erred on the side of dangerous and resulted in two
yellow cards as well as judiciary hearings.
Artemyev’s response however, "It's a game of rugby, and a big hello to our Samoan brothers from the big island of Russia to the rather smaller island of Samoa, so thank you very much for the game
to our opponents" aptly summed up the respectful outlook of the man.
When asked about his team’s upcoming match against Ireland his answer was predictably upbeat, "We are expecting so much from the match against Ireland. We will try to get as much experience as
possible from that and to show a good Russian rugby."