Vasily Grigorievch Artemyev was one of the surprise stars of RWC 2019, the “Moscow Express” charmed and delighted everyone with his post match interviews conducted in a Russian/Irish hybrid drawl, that had listeners bemused and fascinated in equal measure.
Zelenograd is a city that was built in the environs of Moscow in 1958, under the old Soviet Union regime, it has developed as a centre of electronics and computer industry, known as Russia’s Silicon Valley, the emblem of the city is a squirrel, it was here that Vasily Artemyev was born.
A rugby star could have been lost to the arts, as Artemyev learned ballet at the age of six, his grandad’s sister was a ballerina with the world reknowned Bolshoi, so instead of a rip roaring full back there could well have been an alternative Billy Elliotski.
Aged 15 his parents wanted him to learn English so he went to Blackrock College in that delightful town on the edge of Dublin Bay, why Ireland ? well the story goes that it was cheaper than either England or New Zealand.
He was due to spend a year in Ireland but ended up staying for seven playing in the Leinster schools final at Lansdowne Road in 2006.
After graduating from Blackrock, he entered University College Dublin to study Law, a return to Russia in 2009 was followed by a move to England on 2011 when Vasily joined Northampton Saints, scoring a hat trick of tries on his debut against Saracens in the LV Cup.
In 2011 he left England, and joined Krasny Yar where he has played ever since.
Having played for Ireland age at youth level his Russian international debut came on February 7 2009 in an 18-14 win against Portugal in Lisbon, 89 caps and 29 tries later he is still going strong.
After losing to Ireland in Japan coach Lyn Jones gave his verdict on Vasily at the post match press conference.
” May I apologise for his moustache what a great character he is, a great captain, great person and an example to any captain in world rugby”
As Russia headed home after exiting the 2019 Rugby World Cup at the pool stage, there is no doubt that the man from Zelenograd had been one of the characters of RWC 2019.