Mamuka Losaberidze, the man against Vyacheslav Kopiev (1/2)

He’s the new hope for Russian rugby. Former famous soviet international Mamuka Losaberidze is candidate to be the next president of the Russian rugby union. On December 19th, he will face Vyacheslav Kopiev in the most anticipated election since years inside Russian rugby. Mamuka Losaberidze, 50, is currently the vice-president of the Russian Rugby Premier League. He accepted to answer to our questions few weeks before the election.

Could you tell us more about you ? What is your background ?

I can say that all my life is totally dedicated to rugby. A the age of 15 I was already member of junior national rugby team of the USSR. I joined the national team of the USSR at the age of 18. In 1989, I was the first soviet rugby player who started to play for a French rugby club. I am a 4-time champion of the USSR, 10-time champion of Georgia, 3-time silver winner of the European Championship. I was awarded one of the best scrum-half in the history of soviet rugby. That’s why I can say that I live in rugby and breath by rugby.

Could you explain us how the election works (who votes, vote system, etc..) ?

The election of the President takes place at the Conference. The new president is chosen by the regional rugby federations of Russia. At present there are 53 regional’s federations. Unfortunately, the regulations of the election are not approved by the executive committee of the Russian rugby federation yet.

What do you mean about the regulations not approved ? Isn’t vote system decided ?

I mean the main document which regulates rugby in Russia The Charter of Russian rugby federation currently contradicts the Russian legislation. Irresponsible representatives of the rugby federation are trying to introduce the system of representation at the Conference which is completely contradicting to the legislation. That is done to give more seats to their supporters.
The last year Conference had the same violation of the law but because the President was elected on the uncontested basis, so nobody could address the court to dispute the results. I officially notified the Federation representatives about breaking the Russian legislation concerning the elections. What’s more, the Federation intends to call the Executive Committee which will adopts the rules of representation one day before the Conference. That’s done on purpose so that the regions which do not support the today’s President and which want changes – will not be able to send their representatives to the Conference.

« The main task for me means to develop rugby in regions »

Why did you decide to go for this bid ?

When I was playing at the time of the USSR, we were a very strong team and could not be neglected. I see now many people attend rugby games all over the world and I feel sorrow that rugby is not so much popular in our country and not developing in the right way. I think it’s high time now to pay more attention by the professionals to the development and popularization of rugby in my country.

What are your main goals for Russian rugby ?

Our country has 11 time zones, a plane from Moscow to Vladivostok flies more than 9 hours. The main task for me means to develop rugby in regions, to attract teenagers to rugby schools and clubs, to organize amateur rugby clubs. All this will for sure raise the skill of professional clubs and national team in the future.

What are your main propositions ?

For such a big country as ours there can’t be only one suggestion. Each region has its regularities. Nowadays, I gather people of the same opinion together and work out the programme of further development.

So, how do you want to improve participation numbers in Russia ? Do you plan to work with schools ?

I think that the development of any kind of sport starts from schools, in sport sections where children can start their sport. Only from them come sportsmen, referees and coaches. It’s necessary to work with schools, sport schools, universities.
Rugby training for children must be free of charge. Of course there are a lot of difficulties in many regions, first of all coming from climate conditions. It’s rather difficult to play rugby-15 when the summer in your region is only two months and polar night is also two months. But it’s possible to pay more attention to rugby sevens. We have enthusiasts who do not only play rugby in snow but developing it in their places. They need support and help and not only financial.
Of course there are people in regions who are doing their best to keep rugby running but the problem is that the Federation is not helping them at all – not with balls, seminars, training materials. The Federation remembered about regions only when appeared an alternative candidate for the position of President. They do not need regions they need only their voices for voting at the Conference.

Part two will be dedicated to pro rugby and the personalities involved in the election.