AWAJI, 6 Oct – Russia have been eliminated from Rugby World Cup 2019 after three defeats, but their final game against Scotland at the Shizuoka Stadium on Wednesday will carry a special significance for Igor Galinovskiy.
The centre admits that the match might be his last for Russia as he is considering retiring from international rugby. But he is thrilled to be bowing out with fond memories of Japan.
"I think it's enough. I will continue my career but I am not sure about playing for the national team," said 33-year-old Galinovskiy.
"First of all, I need to come back home and finish the season with the club. Then I want to take a small break to clear my mind. This year has been so intense but so colourful and memorable."
Russia will approach the Scotland game in a positive manner, despite never having recorded a win at the Rugby World Cup since making their debut in New Zealand eight years ago - a tournament Galinovskiy missed through injury.
"We are ready, we have analysed and corrected our mistakes and will give all we can. Every player wants to fight and play. We are going to play to win," Galinovskiy said.
"I was upset for some time that I didn’t go (to RWC 2011) but a sporting life runs from one stage to another. The Russian championships resumed, then I played in the Russian Cup final, so I switched my mind and calmed down quickly. Then I was getting ready for the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow, and soon 2019 was here!"
Before the Ireland game, Galinovskiy had last played a test in February 2018, against Belgium, but a recall for the Bears' warm-up defeat by Jersey in August led to his inclusion in the final 31.
"At first, I was not sure that I would come to Japan because I had not been selected for the team until summer 2019. But when I joined the team, I got passionate about this dream to go and did a lot of work to be here."
Rugby Sevens veteran Galinovskiy, pictured above playing against the Cook Islands in 2014, made his name at the London leg of the 2006 World Sevens Series, scoring a hat-trick against Australia in a shock 21-5 win.
But it was not until Russia's third match against Ireland in Pool A at Kobe Misaki Stadium that Galinovskiy got a chance to make his 15-a-side dream come true, winning his 50th cap for the Bears in the process.
"These are unforgettable feelings. They played with a strong team against us, so it was good to face such well-known players at such a big arena," he said.
After his first taste of the World Cup, Galinovskiy relishes the chance to step on the pitch against Scotland on Wednesday.
"It's my dream to experience the same remarkable feelings but there are many players on the Russian squad who have not yet played at this World Cup. I can understand that they are worried about that very much. I feel sorry for them a bit but it's sport - you can’t do anything about it."