MAI Team Head Coach Told About Rugby

4 April 2019

MAI Team Head Coach Told About Rugby

This year Rugby Club of MAI will celebrate its 60th anniversary - this is one of the oldest rugby associations in the country. Recently, at the open festival “Snow Rugby - 2019” in Kazan, the team of the main division won the gold of the tournament, and the team of MAI international students - the 4th place. 

The honored coach of Russia Valery Khromenkov, who himself began his sports career as a student of MAI, has been coaching athletes for several decades now. He is assisted by Rafael Yakubov and Andrey Zhigulskiy. Valery Khromenkov told the “Sever Stolitsy” newspaper about the history of rugby.

Broke the Rules, but the Audience Seemed to Love It

Rugby originated in England two centuries ago.

“College students then played a cross between football and rugby. It was impossible to run with the ball in your hands - after a couple of steps you have to pass. But one day William Webb Ellis grabbed the ball and ran to the gates of rivals. The players were outraged, the goal was not counted. But the audience liked it. This is how special rules for rugby began to form,”- said Valery Khromenkov.

And the oval rugby ball, which was called “melon”, has an even more long history.

“The form has been preserved since the time when a pork or bull bladder served as a ball chamber, which was covered with four leather overlays,” - the coach noted.

In the Soviet Union, rugby championships were held already in the 30s of the XX century, but they forgot about it after the war. Interest revived after the World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow in 1957, when international students held demonstration matches.


Attempt is More Valuable Than a Goal

The big rugby is played by teams of 15 people each, in the Olympic – teams of 7 people, they play on the football field. And in the snow and beach options five rugby players met on the ice hockey pitch.

“The ball is led by hands and feet. Hands can only be passed back - to the player behind you. To dispossess the ball rivals can grab you and knock down. Only grabs higher than shoulders are forbidden,” - Valery Khromenkov explained.

The task of holding the ball is to reach the goal line. They look like the letter “H”: two vertical stands and a crossbar.

“The rugby player must bring the ball into the end zone behind the goal line and put it on the ground. This is called an “attempt”, for it the team gets five points and the right to “realize” this “attempt”. It is done this way: the player returns with the ball on the field, puts the ball on a special stand and kicks it with his foot into the gates. A goal is worth two points and is counted if the ball hit the target above the crossbar,”- the coach said.

In the snow and beach rugby there is no gate at all. There points are charged only for attempts.

From Fight to Fan

Rugby players have a position.

“The most physically powerful players are attackers. Their role is especially important in the fight, where they play off the ball. So, in a big rugby game, eight forwards from each team stand against each other, wall to wall. A ball is thrown at the center, which needs to be kicked off the opponents with their feet,” – Mr. Khromenkov said.

Five defenders - the fastest guys - are waiting for the ball at this time.


“They are called fan. When one of them takes possession of the ball, they will run close to each other, passing the ball back - as if a fan is opening. Two more players who help pass the ball of the “fight” to the “fan” are midfielders,” – the coach explained.

Both Athletics and Wrestling

According to the coach, rugby combines elements of various sports: football, basketball, handball, athletics, gymnastics, wrestling. Even swimming is useful.

“In our youth, we played a match under a terrible downpour. And when my rivals knocked me down with the ball, I literally cut the “waves” on the field like a ship,” - the coach recalled with a smile. - “The power struggle is also here, but not as rough as in American football. Therefore, rugby players do not have protective ammunition - a regular football uniform. Unless for snow rugby, players wear warm tights. After all, contractions in the snow are held at temperatures up to 15 degrees below zero.”

Sever Stolitsy

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