'Ireland is my step-home' - Russia captain and former Blackrock star Vas Artemyev hails Pool A clash
At the end of what was an emotional occasion for Russia captain Vas Artemyev, he was filled with immense pride after his side made life uncomfortable for Ireland.
Having spent some of his younger years living in Dublin, where he attended Blackrock College, Artemyev then went on to represent Ireland at U-19 level.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
Had things worked out differently, Russia's top try scorer might well have went on to play for his adopted nation at senior level, but since returning home, he has become the poster boy for a sport that is still very much in it its infancy.
After the full-time whistle had sounded, there was a warm embrace between Johnny Sexton and Artemyev, who know each other well.
"For me personally it was great," Artemyev said afterwards.
"Ireland is my step-home. When we're not playing Ireland, I support Ireland. Playing against them, you see some familiar faces. It's great, playing on a big stage like tonight.
"So far we've been enjoying every single minute of it, which is the most important thing. To enjoy the moment. And hopefully give our fans a reason to cheer and be proud of the team they support."
Artemyev has watched Sexton blossom into the player he has become today and although he couldn't get one over him today, he was impressed by the performance of his opposite skipper.
International Rugby Newsletter
"He just brings that composure," he said of Sexton.
"He knew when to speed it up, when to slow it down. He's one of the best fly-halves in the world and he's still going strong. He's at the heart of everything that's good about Ireland."
Artemyev is hoping that Russia's gutsy performances at this World Cup in Japan will help inspire the next generation as the sports looks to grow.
"We gave the supporters a reason to cheer," he maintained.
“We're the underdogs of the tournament, and the pool, and because we're bringing passion and energy into our performances, it warrants supporters from both sides cheering us.
"We can hold our heads high. It's great. Hopefully we can inspire some young players and bring rugby in Russia to a new level.
"We've been getting real good feedback from back at home. There's good exposure on the main channel. It's a huge step forward.
"Russia have played with good passion, playing really well considering a year ago we didn't know we would be here.
"I feel like people are getting to know what rugby's about and the values it brings and we're getting good support. A lot of our supporters have travelled a long way to be here and it's great."
Just as the Russian press conference was drawing to a close, their Welsh head coach Lyn Jones, who was flanked by Artemyev, reserved special praise for his captain, even if he isn't a fan of his facial hair!
"As regards Vasily can I just apologise for his moustache," Jones smiled.
"And secondly, I want to say what a great captain, great person he is and an example to any captain in world rugby."