Library visit lifts Bears' spirits

by staff

Two precious days off after Sunday’s defeat by Ireland have given Russia's players the chance to enjoy some rugby-free rest and recreation in one of New Zealand's most popular tourist regions.

And one of the standouts was a visit to the Rotorua Library - an occasion which also gave an off-the-field insight into some of the Bears.

“After the Ireland game, the coaches have given us two days off," 38-year-old number 8 Vyacheslav Grachev said on Tuesday.

"There was no training yesterday and today the guys have separated into three groups: some went off fishing, some went to the library and the rest will go to an amusement park."

Grachev and five other players were welcomed at the library by a group of local children singing traditional Kiwi songs and performing a haka.

Mutual respect

The Bears replied with a rendition of the Russian national anthem and then presented a box of books on Russian history and culture before signing autographs.

“This event has improved our mood," said Grachev. "Such meetings within the cultural programme and speaking to local people of New Zealand give inspiration.

"You see that people here really respect us and tell us to keep on despite our losses."

Full back Igor Klyuchnikov was all smiles as he was surrounded by a crowd of children.

“Last time I was in the library was seven or eight years ago when I was a student,” he said.

“I like reading, I always take two or three books with me when I am away from home.

All smiles

"I usually choose books after advice from my wife or mother-in-law. The last book I have read was Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. I’ve read it once again.”

Klyuchnikov said books on rugby were almost impossible to find in Russia.

“I have never come across any rugby books," he said. "There should be some, but I have not seen anything in Russian.

"Anyway, I always try to get some rest from rugby when I am home."

The Bears leave Rotorua for Nelson on Wednesday for their final Pool C match. They face Australia at Trafalgar Park on Saturday.