Down For A Russian Adventure, As Putin Backs 2027 Bid

|||||||Published by Christie Gilmartin29th July 2020

Cardiff Blues Lock James Down has signed for Russian Club Lokomotive Penza, on the same day that Russia announce a Putin backed Rugby World Cup bid. Down has had two stints at Cardiff Blues over a twelve year career. He spent the 2014 season with London Welsh before heading back to his home region. Down has amassed 132 caps for Cardiff Blues and 111 for Cardiff RFC. The 32 year old will now head to Russia to play in the Liga Stavok Russian Rugby.

Lokomotive Penza are currently in Second place in the Russian League and will be hoping for a strong finish to the current season. It is a move that bucks the trends of recent times, with players moving to the Japanese League or Major League Rugby in North America. The Liga Stavok is a very exciting league and there has been some thrilling encounters since rugby has returned to the pitch. You can watch a lot of the games on the Russian Rugby Twitter and YouTube. It will be interesting to see whether more players head to Russia, for a new experience, in the latter stages of their career.

Russia 2027 Bid

The Russian Rugby Federation has announced that they will bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup. The official bidding process will open in February 2021 and a decision will be made in May 2022. The current favourites to win the right to host the tournament are Australia. The Russian bid is somewhat of a surprise one but an interesting one. Interest in Rugby Union, in that part of the world, is growing and a World Cup could do wonders, but there will always be questions, from some people, about a bid backed by Vladimir Putin.

What They Said:

James Down:

“I grew up supporting Cardiff and Cardiff Blues so to play for my home region for so long has been an absolute dream, especially at the Arms Park.

“I’m am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had and have so many fond memories from winning Welsh derbies to big European victories on the road against the likes of Pau, Lyon and Toulouse.

“The supporters have always been brilliant with me, particularly after I suffered that serious ankle dislocation, and I can only thank them and all the guys at the Arms Park.

“I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my career and I leave with nothing but good memories and friends made.”

Cardiff Blues’ Head Coach, John Mulvihill:

“Downsy has been an excellent servant of Cardiff Blues for more than a decade. He is one of the most selfless players in our group, who always puts the needs of the group ahead of his own.

“He has been involved in some big wins over the tears and his professionalism and work rate has been a constant reminder to our young players of what it takes to make it in regional rugby.

“On behalf of all the staff at the Arms Park, I wish him all the very best for his new adventure and I have no doubt that if he continues to work as hard as he has in the past, he is certain to remain successful in the future.”

Russian Rugby Federation:

“On July 24, the supreme council of the Russian Rugby Federation established a committee to prepare an application to host the Rugby World Cup in Russia in 2027,”

“Anticipating the creation of the committee, chairman of the supreme council of the Russian Rugby Federation Igor Artemyev recalled that the initiative to prepare an application to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Russia was supported by the president of Russia at the council for the development of physical culture and sports.

“The necessary consultations were held with the participation of the ministry of sports. By the end of this year detailed information and criteria for the application are expected.”

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