Russia lost its first ever match at a Rugby World Cup on Thursday, falling to the U.S. 6-13.
No side making its debut had ever won its first match at a Rugby World Cup, and Russia was no exception. But sloppy U.S. play in the second half allowed Russia to stay in the game down to the wire.
The match was broadcast live on Russian national television, showcasing a sport that has long been overshadowed by hockey and football in Russia but is bound to gain in popularity when rugby sevens becomes an Olympic event at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.
Russia scored first on a penalty by Yury Kushnarev early in the first half of the match, played at Taranaki Stadium in New Plymouth, New Zealand. But Chris Wyles of the U.S. tied up the score with his own penalty nine minutes later, and a try by Mike Petri shortly after put the U.S. ahead 10-3.
The second half opened with a torrential downpour that may have contributed to missed penalties by both sides. Wyles finally connected in the 65th minute, as did Konstantin Rachkov for Russia 12 minutes later to complete the scoring.
Today’s match may have been Russia’s best chance for a win at this year’s RWC: the “Bears” will face Italy on Tuesday, Ireland on September 25 and Australia on October 1.