Rugby World Cup: Coach Lyn Jones praises Russia bid for 2027

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
During his playing career Lyn Jones played for Neath, Llanelli and Treorchy and won five caps for Wales
During his playing career Lyn Jones played for Neath, Llanelli and Treorchy and won five caps for Wales

Russia coach Lyn Jones says the country would do a "really good job" of hosting the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

The Russian union - backed by the government - has made the surprise announcement that it is preparing a bid to challenge favourites Australia.

Jones believes that staging the tournament could have a similar effect in the sport there as the successful 2019 event did in Japan.

"They will do a really good job," Jones told BBC Sport Wales.

"Everybody who ventured to Russia for the football World Cup (in 2018) had nothing but positives to say.

"The hospitality and the facilities for visitors are superb - the football World Cup went a long way to rejuvenating cities and bringing the best out of the nation.

"They're pretty serious about the proposal they're putting together, they'll do anything for elite sport and they want it to reflect well on their country."

The former Ospreys and Dragons boss has been the national coach since 2018 and steered them to qualification for the 2019 World Cup, although they finished bottom of their pool in Japan.

After the 2019 event brought packed stadia in Japan, Jones believes hosting in 2027 would 'wake a sleeping giant' - or as he called it a "sleeping bear" - as he tries to drive Russia up the world rankings from their current position of 20th.

Russia beat Portugal and Romania in the 2020 Rugby Europe Championship after losing to Spain and Belgium, with their match away to champions Georgia postponed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

"It's not been easy, it reminds me of Wales back in the Graham Henry days (at the turn of the century), we've got a lot of improvements to be made but they've got the desire," said the former Wales flanker, who has fellow Welshman Shaun Connor alongside him on the coaching staff.

Lyn Jones - Russia is a sleeping bear of world rugby

"When we started regional rugby, we got academies and we shortened the process of getting players good enough for international rugby, but Russia has a plan and they're working towards that.

"The league has grown from six (clubs) to eight to 10 this year and it's so much better already, but it takes time."

Among the new players in that league is ex-Cardiff Blues lock James Down, 32, who has joined Lokomotiv Penza, 625 kilometres south east of Moscow.

"He'll have a great experience - although he had to drive there from Estonia because of flights, which is a fantastic experience in itself," joked Jones.

"James will have a huge influence, he's a good person, and as long as you're a tidy person the Russians will love you. He'll add so much on the field and to the coaching off the field."

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