Thursday’s match between Russia and the USA is shaping up to be one of the epic contests in this year’s World Cup. It’s the stuff of cold war fantasies and for a generation who grew up watching Rambo III, Miracle on Ice and Weekend at Bernies 2, it is a chance to rekindle the greatest rivalry of the late 20th century: the cold war.
America and Russia are not known as traditional rugby playing nations, so some readers may not be familiar with back story to this grudge match and why so much is at stake in this encounter. We thought we’d bring you up to speed:
The build up to Thursday’s game began two years ago during the campaign to qualify for the World Cup, when star Russian player, Alexey Travkin, first arrived in the USA. Travkin who at 6 foot 5 and 261 pounds bears an uncanny resemblance to Dolph Lundgren, arrived with his coach Nicolay Nerush and a team of trainers to challenge the best American rugby players. At their first training session the Russians showed off plenty of high-tech training equipment to a mesmerised American public.
Motivated by a misguided sense of American patriotism and too many DSTV reruns, former heavyweight champion and USA Eagles rugby player, Apollo Creed, emerged from retirement to take on Travkin at a game of touch rugby at San Diego beach. Despite his reservations, Eagles captain Todd Cleaver agreed to train Apollo for the match “one last time” only to see him savagely torn apart by Travkin. Travkin was heard muttering “if he dies… he dies” at the press conference later that evening.
Driven by a deep sense of guilt Todd Cleaver and the rest of the USA Eagles team decided to avenge Apollo Creed’s death by agreeing to make their World Cup clash with Russia a “match of honour” . To prepare for the encounter, the Russians have been extensively evaluated and coached by a team of trainers and doctors with scientific instruments. The Americans however have used a Spartan approach: they threw heavy logs, chopped wood and jogged in heavy snow past icicles in the cold tundra of the Northern Hemisphere.
It all comes down to this Thursday. Russia versus America. Who will prevail?
In the words of Survivor: “Is it East versus West or Man versus Man?”