Artemyev excited by hometown Sevens party
The countdown to Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 revved into top gear in Moscow at the weekend with Europe's men competing in round two of the FIRA Grand Prix and the cream of Europe's women also going head to head in Russia's capital.
Most significantly, in the women's tournament five nations - England, Spain, France, Netherlands and Ireland - cemented places in the draw for next year's showpiece Sevens event in Moscow, alongside hosts Russia.
With IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset in town and full tournament backing from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sports Minister Vitaliy Mutko and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, excitement is now building for what will be a huge rugby party – Russian style!
The showpiece event in the Sevens calendar will take place at the iconic Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, and Rugby World Cup 2011 hero and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 Ambassador, Vasily Artemyev, said his hometown is buzzing with anticipation to welcoming the rugby world.
Artemyev: Big news for Russia
"Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 is big news," said the flying winger, scorer of 26 tries for the Russian Bears on the IRB's World Sevens Series. "It is big news for Russia and it is absolutely huge news for the Russian rugby community – there's a huge buzz for what will be the most significant rugby event ever to be held on Russian soil."
In four years' time Rugby Sevens will re-enter the Olympic Games, traditionally the primary focus for sport in Russia, and Artemyev believes the opportunity for his countrymen to witness the speed and power of the world's newest Olympic discipline will prove a huge draw when the tournament arrives in the Russian capital.
"The Olympic angle simply makes the tournament even more important back home, and it will further elevate the profile of the sport in the country. Rugby World Cup Sevens is the perfect vehicle for rugby to extend further into Russia."
Not only will Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 be the biggest rugby event ever to take place in Russia, it will be the biggest to take place in the sport's hugely promising frontier of Eastern Europe and Artemyev sees it is as a part of the world which will immediately embrace the party atmosphere that defines Rugby Sevens.
"It's great that we'll be bringing the whole Sevens culture to Russia. I'm sure Moscow is an audience which will embrace everything about it, from what goes on the pitch to the atmosphere in the stands."
With 24 men's sides and 16 women's sides set to vie for the Melrose Cup and the Women's Rugby Sevens World Cup in Moscow, Russians who attend the tournament and the festivities around it be able join in the fun with fans from every corner of the globe, and Artemyev is keen to highlight the wonderful opportunity it gives those fans to see his country.
Breaking down stereotypes
"Thousands upon thousands of people from around the world now have the opportunity to travel to Moscow and see what Russia is really like, to break the stereotypes, and to receive our welcome."
With the expedited visa regime the Rugby Union of Russia and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working hard to put in place for the tournament set to remove all difficulties of travelling to Russia, Artemyev hopes fans will take the opportunity to take time to see more of the world's largest country.
"Mid-summer is the absolutely perfect time to visit Russia, the weather is perfect for exploring our wonderful city, and I would urge visitors to stay on and see more of Russia, such as the White Nights in St. Petersburg."
On the pitch, Artemyev is likely to form part of an improving and dangerous Russian side which has been steadily improving on the world and European stages and which is targeting winning silverware in front of its home fans. It's an experience he cannot wait to be a part of.
"Personally, it will be a huge honour and privilege for me to play such a huge event on home soil and in my hometown. As a team, we're under no illusions, we know it will be a huge challenge, but we're confident that the boost we will get from playing in front of our home fans will outweigh that."
It's not only on the pitch where Russia is looking to deliver. "For Russian rugby, Rugby World Cup Sevens is a unique opportunity," added Artemyev. "We need to seize it and show that we're ready to host, we're ready for the party, and that we're ready to compete with the top Sevens sides in the world. I expect lots of work to be done to deliver the best Rugby Sevens World Cup ever."
Together with fellow RWC wing Vladimir Ostroushko, Anastasia Mukharyamova, and Elena Shevtsova, Vasily Artemyev is one of four Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 Ambassadors.