Banner images courtesy of Rianovosti
The GB Lions kick off their European Championship Qualifying Tournament against Team Russia on Friday, a game being exclusively streamed by Double Coverage and our friends over at End Run Productions.
Russia will enter the tournament on the back of a 20-0 win over Norway, following a lacklustre defeat to Poland, advancing them to their first qualifying tournament in more than a decade. They also come in to the tournament under the guidance of new Head Coach Tony Simmons. Coach Simmons is a former Wide Receiver for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants, before hanging up his cleats and beginning a coaching journey that has seen him travel all over the world, working in Austria, Hungary, India, Italy, Brazil, Finland and Poland before he landed in Russia.
This will be Coach Simmons’ first action since taking over the reigns with the Russian national side; since beating Norway 20-0 late last year, Team Russia haven’t seen any further competitive action, so there is little information to go by. We do know, however, that their 45 man squad is dominated by the presence of players from the Moscow Patriots.
Despite teams playing in 25 of the 26 biggest cities in Russia, the Patriots account for 19 of the roster spots ahead of the Qualifying Tournament, with the St. Petersburg Griffins’ 7 players being the second highest number from any one club. The Patriots will compete in the Russian league semi-final later this month, whilst the Griffins – the reigning Russian champions – were dumped out in the quarter-finals by Moscow Spartans, who account for only 3 members of the National side.
|St. Petersburg Griffins||7|
|St. Petersburg North Legion||5|
|Perm Steel Tigers||2|
Interestingly, 10 members of Team Russia ply their trade away from the Russian Premier Division…with one player playing further away than others. Enter Sergey Kuzmin, who spent the 2016 season with Sussex Thunder in the BAFA National Leagues! The 6’7″ Tight End had previously played for the London Olympians as well as Sussex Saxons in the BUCS league.
Eyes will be on defensive back Dimitry Kulinich of the Moscow Patriots come kick off, following his extravagant claim that he’ll bag “a thousand interceptions” on Instagram prior to the tournament;
A full roster breakdown can be found on the next page. Kick off between Great Britain and Russia is at 7pm, Sixways Stadium (Worcester). If you can’t make the game, tune in to our live stream and #RoarForGB!