The Russian rugby team could be in for a timely boost ahead of next month’s World Cup in New Zealand. Melbourne Rebels lock Adam Byrnes is offering his services to the squad as the Australian’s grandparents on his mother’s side hail from Russia.
Adam Byrnes could have been looking forward to a nice holiday after the Southern Hemisphere’s Super 15 competition came to an end. However the 29-year-old has decided to help Russia out at the upcoming World Cup.
“In January this year, I saw an article in a magazine calling upon players from overseas that could qualify for Russia. And I knew that was me,” Adam Byrnes said.
Thanks to his maternal grandparents, Adam did speak Russian well in his youth, and if he gets on the plane to New Zealand, he will have plenty of chance to practice, given that the majority of the squad do not speak much English.
However, the Sydney native says he is well on top of his adopted nation’s customs.
“I travelled there with school in 1996, actually, a while ago now. And what I know about Russia is pretty much what I was told by my parents, and few traditions – we celebrated Easter and Christmas in the Russian way,” he said.
Byrnes is set to make his debut for Russia on Sunday against English Premiership side Gloucester, as the World Cup finalists continue their tour of the U.K.
They have suffered two heavy defeats so far, and coach Kingsley Jones is hopeful that their new import can provide the team with some much-needed experience.
Little is expected of the Russians when their World Cup campaign gets underway on September 15. However, for Adam Byrnes – if he does make the trip – it will fulfil a lifelong dream of playing in Rugby Union’s biggest event.