(Reuters) – Russia have named experienced flyhalf Yuri Kushnarev in their 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan alongside seven other players who featured at the country’s only other appearance at the finals in New Zealand in 2011.
Captain Vasily Artemyev, Denis Simplikevich, Evgeny Matveev, Andrei Ostrikov, Vladimir Ostroushko, Victor Gresev and Andrei Garbuzov are the other survivors from the team that returned eight years ago without winning a game.
Russia qualified for the 2019 World Cup after Romania, Spain and Belgium were docked points for fielding ineligible players in qualifying tournaments and could find it hard to get their first ever World Cup win after being drawn in a tough group.
Russia coach Lyn Jones’ team are in Pool A, alongside Ireland, Scotland, Samoa and Japan, and kick off their campaign against the hosts in Tokyo on Sept. 20.
Only two players in the Welshman’s squad play outside Russia — prop Valery Morozov who is with Sale Sharks in the English Premiership and second-rower Ostrikov of Grenoble in France.
Jones, who was appointed in August last year, has also picked 32-year-old tighthead Kirill Gotovtsev, who made his test debut in 2015 against Portugal.
Gotovtsev, who has played four times for his country, has also represented Russia in wrestling and the two-man bobsleigh.
Russia were thumped 85-15 by Italy in their final World Cup warm-up match on Aug. 17.
Forwards: Azamat Bitiev, Andrey Garbuzov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Victor Gresev, Bogdan Fedotko, Vitaliy Zhivatov, Evgeny Matveev, Andrey Polivalov, Vladimir Podrezov, Evgeny Yelgin, Stanislav Selsky, Nikita Vavilin, Sergey Chernyshev, Tagir Gadzhiev, Roman Khodin, Andrei Ostrikov, Valery Morozov, Anton Sychev
Backs: Vasily Artemyev (captain), Igor Galinovsky, Kirill Golosnitsky, Vasily Dorofeev, Yuri Kushnarev, German Davydov, Dmitry Perov, Vladislav Sozonov, Dmitry Gerasimov, Ramil Gaysin, Denis Simplikevich, Vladimir Ostroushko, Sergey Yanyushkin
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)