‘They say it isn’t a sport for women. I just smile’: Meet Russia’s women’s beach rugby team

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Rugby is not generally considered a typically female sport or often associated with Russia, but the country’s women’s beach rugby team are aiming to smash that stereotype with glory at the European Championship 2019 in Moscow.

In contrast to traditional rugby, played on a grass pitch with two teams of 15 players, seven-a-side beach rugby was invented in 1999 in Italy, when the Italian national team took their training sessions on the sand. 

Although fairly new in Russia, the country has just held its Russian championships and on July 27-28, Russia’s men’s and women’s teams will contest the Beach Rugby European Championships in Moscow, organized by the Beach Rugby Association (EBRA).

The women’s team will take on Spain, Austria and Croatia in their qualifying matches on Saturday a phase which also includes teams from Italy, Belarus, Latvia and Georgia, all battling it out for a place in the knockout stages on Sunday.

Recently, Russia’s women came so close to qualifying for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, losing 19-0 in the final to England in Kazan at their home qualifying tournament, but are still eligible for a bid by finishing as runners-up in the tournament.

RT Sport spoke to Anastasia Voronchikhina, Russian team hooker and newly-crowned national champions ‘Vityaz’, from Perm in the Ural mountain region about beach rugby, the Olympics, tackling stereotypes, and the perils of finding a beach to train on.

Rugby isn’t often associated with Russians, not to mention Russian girls. How did you get involved in beach rugby and why

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