The Armenian Association of Veteran Rugby Players knows all matters connected with veterans of this game in Armenia, including the holding of trainings and tournaments of veterans. The Chairman of the Association of Veteran Rugby Players is Mushegh Stepanyan. The Association has its own website:
and the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The editorial office of the website of the Rugby Federation of Armenia presents to the attention of its visitors an article of one of the veterans of Armenian rugby Yuri Ginosyan written to the 40th anniversary of this game in our country and published in the newspaper of the Armenians of the CIS "Noyev Kovcheg" in issue 04 (97) for March 15-31, 2006. The article reflects one of the aspects of the activities of the Armenian Association of Veterans Rugby Players.
RUGBY IS A SPIRIT OF COMRADESHIP AND REAL MEN'S FRIENDSHIP
The 40th anniversary of Armenian rugby was being marked at the "Kotayk" stadium of Abovyan, Yerevan's satellite town, on an ordinary Saturday in October 2005, and the "overgrown" sportsmen who gathered there set the beginning and contributed to the development of this manly sport in Armenia four decades back with their enthusiasm, energy and fervor.
veterans of Armenian rugby, the participants of the match and festival dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Armenian rugby in the "Kotayk" stadium in the town of Abovyan (Kotayk region). October 2005.
The festival devoted to the 40th anniversary of Armenian rugby organized and held due to the Association of Veterans of Rugby Players of Armenia and with sponsorship of the "Redinet" company, and simply rugby fans Ashot Simonyan, Eduard Baghdasaryan, Yuri Ginosyan, proved a great success. First juniors aged 15-16 went onto the field. The match was interesting and uncompromising.
Then they were replaced on the field by teams representing today's generation of Armenian rugby players. They showed their mature skills and tactical ability during the game which ended under the applause of veterans and fans.
The highlight of the festival program was the match of rugby veterans of Moscow and Yerevan at the age of 50-67. Former sparring partners and rivals who had played against each other in CIS championships and cup tournaments many times, again went on the pitch "to revive old customs" and "crumple each other's sides" in a friendly match.
episodes from the match of veterans at the festival dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Armenian rugby. The "Kotayk" stadium in the town of Abovyan. October 2005.
Among them were both former USSR champions and Cup winners, and winners of the championships of central councils of sport societies "Dynamo", "Spartak", "Burevestnik" Armen Adamyants, Robert Melkonyan, Alexander Velichkin, Rafik Siradeghyan, Andrey Grachev, Tigran Stepanyan, Yury Dayneko, Ruben (Chuk) Karapetyan, Sergey Demidenko, Samvel Shirinyan, Douglas Kavtalashvili, Harutyun Hakobyan, Pavel Karev, Harutyun Demirchyan, Vladimir Marchenko, Ashot Mirijanyan, Kamo Igityan, Yuri Pavlov (while this article was being written Yuri Pavlov died, a few days before he would have turned 60), Ashot Nazloyan, Oleg Tuzov, Ashot Atanesyan, 67-year-old Anatoly Tumanov, Ashot Papyan, Alexey Khavroshkin, Mikhail Harutyunyan, Yuri Kharitonchikov, Valery Poghosyan, Yuri Ginosyan, the playing coach of the Muscovites, twice champion of the USSR - Sergey Yuryev and the coach of the Armenian rugby players Valery Savchenko. The participants of the game observed a minute's silence to honor the memory of their friends who had not lived to see that day: Gevorg Grigoryan, Andrey Malkhasyan, Romeo Tonoyan, Alexander Kadilov, Vardan Stepanyan, Alfred and Albert Ayvazyan, Anatoly Isakov and Vladimir Martirosyan.
There were no losers in that match. There were only winners, people who with honor and pride carried their love for the manly and fair game named rugby through years. It is worth reminding here that "the Armenian trace" in rugby is thorough enough. In fact this game for the first time appeared in the territory of the USSR in 1923. Championships of the country were held even in the 1930s. The son of legendary revolutionary Suren Spandaryan - Stepan Spandaryan was the big enthusiast and promote of rugby into masses in those years. After the war rugby for a long time was not allowed to be developed in the USSR, and only with the coming of the "Khrushchev thaw" and after the International Festival of Youths and Students in Moscow this sport again began to clear its way due to the students of the higher schools - the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) and the Moscow Higher Technical College (MHTC). At those times Armenian surnames were big in rugby: Alexander Grigoryants, the captain of the MHTC team, the best player of the country of the 60s, who unfortunately, left us too early, Eduard Taturyan, who trained in different years the teams of the higher league and even the national team of the USSR. Armen Adamyants played for long years in the first line at the MAI, now he is doctor of technical sciences, professor, head of the chair at the MAI, player of the team of veterans of the Moscow "Burevestnik" club. Sergo Aroyants played for many years in the defense of Dynamo Tbilisi - he is a great authority in Georgian rugby.
Official rugby competitions were for the first time held in Armenia in 1965, and those were the first championship of Yerevan in this sport and the first match against the Moscow "Spartak" team.
But still two years prior to that, in 1963, the first training of Armenian rugby players, mainly students of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, was held on the sport square of Victory Party in Yerevan, more known as "Monument". The students were Arman (Sergey) Martirosyan, Anatoly Isakov and others.
Armenian students grew fond of rugby thanks to the English film "That's the Sport Life", which was on the big screens of Yerevan at that time, and also due to the demonstrative match between the Tbilisi teams "Lokomotiv" and "Dynamo" in-between the all-Union competitions in track and field athletics dedicated to the Znamensky brothers. Perhaps that's why there were many successful track and field athletes among the first rugby players of Armenia: Yuri Nshanyan, Alexander Kanayan, Alexey Kodilov, Anatoly Isakov, Arman (Sergey) Martirosyan, Ashot Nazloyan.
Then footballers Valery Savchenko, Yuri Poghosyan, Vachik Hunanyan joined them, as did Sambo (unarmed self-defense) fighters and wrestlers Robert Melkonyan, Karen Zarbabyan, Samvel Shirinyan, Harutyun Demirchyan, Rafik Siradeghyan, Vladimir Martirosyan, Harutyun Hakobyan, Aghasi Harutyunyan, Nikol (Rudik) Grigoryan and others. The team was coached by Arman (Sergey) Martirosyan, and then by Yuri Nshanyan - first at the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, from where most players went to "Dynamo", "Spartak" and "Burevestnik". Great assistance in the establishment of Armenian rugby was rendered by Moscow fans and enthusiasts of this manly game: Yuri Viktorovich Dayneko, a graduate of the MAI who for many years was the executive secretary of the Rugby Federation of the USSR, and now is one of the organizers and inspirers of veteran movement in Russia and CIS countries.
As Yury Dayneko remembers, for the first time he heard that rugby was popular in Armenia still in Moscow. Arriving in Yerevan, he found admirers of this game. Dayneko's historical meeting with Samvel Shirinyan, Arman (Sergey) Martirosyan, Jury Nshanyan and Anatoly Isakov took place in early December 1965. Further events began to develop like in "accelerated" cinema: Dayneko's meeting with the chairman of city council of the Union of Sport Societies and organizations of Yerevan G. Zhamgaryan, the first championship of city with participation of teams of "Dynamo", "Burevestnik" and "Spartak", the invitation and arrival in Yerevan of the Moscow "Spartak" team and a match between the combined team of Yerevan and Moscow "Spartak" on December 7, 1965. And all that happened within just one week.
By the way, Victor Nikolayevich Larionov, who upon the invitation of the council of the Union of Sport Societies and Organizations of Yerevan arrived in Yerevan in May 1966 and began to train Armenian rugby players played for Moscow "Spartak" in the memorable match.
The Rugby Federation of Armenia was established in 1966 and in different years it was headed by V. Budaghov, M. Galoyan, S. Seylanov, L. Gyulnazaryan, G. Panikyan.
the "Dynamo" (Yerevan) rugby team in 1968
Victor Larionov's coaching work (he also played in the field as a key player) made it possible to raise Armenian rugby to a worthy level: as a result of the 1967 season,
Armenian rugby players occupied an honorable 7th place among the teams of the higher league of the USSR, in 1969 and 1974 Yerevan Dynamo became bronze prize-winners of the championships of "Dynamo" DSO.
Rugby was gaining popularity in Armenia. Neither the absence of special fields, nor the opposition of sport functionaries who refused to allow rugby players to use football fields for trainings and competitions, could not cool down the enthusiasm and ardor of the fans of this game (at times trainings were held on asphalt or earth "stony" fields). More and more talented and promising young men were coming to this sport.
Among them one can single out the brothers Mushegh, Tigran and Vardan Stepanyans, Grigory and Sargis Janvelyans, Armen Babayan, Oleg Mkrtchyan, Sergey Rudalev, Yuri Metelkov, Hrant Patrikyan, Ivan Safonov, Pavel Braslavskiy, Gevorg Grigoryan, Oleg Golovachev, Harutyun Sinanyan, Samvel Zarbabyan, Ruben (Chuk) Karapetyan, Mihran Parikyan, Ashot Mirijanyan, Ashot Atanesyan, Kamo Igityan, Solomon Mandel, Gagik Sukiasyan, Hamlet Chitchyan, Vartkez Bagrevandyan, Ararat Saribekyan, Armen Chatinyan and many others. Many young people passed through rugby during those years, but only those who seized and realized the spirit of comradeship, the "elbow" feeling and real men's friendship cultivated with this game remained. Not without reason, as against other playing sports, in rugby friendly ties developed in youth between players continue for the rest of the life. And maybe, for this reason the veteran movement of rugby players has the widest geography and mass character.
Competitions in the championship of Armenia and Yerevan, the Cup of Armenia and the Cup of Yerevan began to be held on a regular basis in 1968. The number of participating teams had considerably increased: "Ashkhatank", YerPI, "Burevestnik" and other teams joined "Dynamo" and "Spartak". The indisputable leader of Armenian rugby in 1965-75 was "Dynamo" for which high-class players who could beautify any team of the USSR higher league played during those years. Especially it is worth noting the play of halfback Valery Savchenko who led forward the players of the team. Players of the scrum Harutyun Hakobyan, Rafik Siradeghyan, Alexander Kadilov, Alexander Kanayan, Harutyun Demirchyan, Romeo Tonoyan, Vachik Hunanyan, Gevorg Gulakyan, Aghasi Harutyunyan, Gevorg Grigoryan, Arman Martirosyan, with their skilful actions, frequently not only resisted contenders, but also provided movement forward. Three-quarter players deserve being mentioned separately: Ashot Simonyan, Samvel Shirinyan, Sergey Rudalev, Nikolay Asatryan, Yuri Nshanyan, Ivan Safonov, Karen Zarbabyan, Robert Melkonyan, brothers Janvelyan - fast, dexterous, quick guys. Perfect defense players in different years were Alexander Kadilov and Tigran Stepanyan, who, among other things, were also goal-scoring and conversion players and brought the team many points with their precise and strong shots on goal.
In 1968-69, Ashot Simonyan and Viktor Baroyan came to Yerevan "Dynamo" from Kiev "Spartak", which opened "the second breath" for the Armenian team. Coaches Ashot Simonyan in 1969-1971 and then Victor Baroyan in 1972-1975 headed the team. By the way, as a result of the 1969 and 1970 seasons A. Simonyan twice entered the top "thirty" rugby-players of the USSR.
"Spartak" was first trained by Petros Aslanyan, and from 1968 by Suren Mkrtchyan. "Ashkhatank" was headed by Pavel Braslavsky (1968), and from the end of 1968 to 1976 by Robert Melkonyan. The "Burevestnik" team was trained by the brothers Janvelyans, and YerPI by Rafik Siradeghyan.
Refereeing in all-Union and international competitions in the 1970-90s was duly done by the Armenian brigade including Petros Aslanyan, Vigen and Suren Mkrtchyans. Petros Aslanyan was awarded the rank of the referee of the international category.
By the mid-70s Yerevan "Dynamo" began to yield its leading positions. There were also objective reasons for that. First, in 1974 the Central Council of the "Dynamo" DSO took rugby out of sports cultivated in society and stopped financing. Besides, the very "first" rugby players still played in the team and their age came to the limit.
And further, from 1977 up to the present times, leading positions in Armenian rugby was taken over by Yerevan "Spartak" which represented the republic in all-Union and international competitions. In 1979 and 1981, Yerevan "Spartak" won the third place among all Spartak teams of the USSR, and reached the final in the USSR Cup. In 1990, at the international competitions in France, Yerevan "Spartak" took an honorable third place. Yerevan "Spartak" players also distinguished themselves with their individuality and brightness. Passes at lightning speed throughout the field of Ashot Mirijanyan, the team play of halfbacks Ashot Atanesyan and Ruben (Chuk) Karapetyan, the courage and reliability of Mushegh Shakhazizyan, Kamo Igityan, Solomon Mandel, and especially Mihran Parikyan and Hamlet Chitchyan many times delighted the fans of this splendid game.
Speaking about the history of our rugby, it is necessary to mention such teams as "Ashkhatank", "Burevestnik", YerPI, and trainers who worked and brought up sportsmen. Those are Robert Melkonyan, Mikael Hakobyan, Suren Mkrtchyan, Petros Aslanyan, Musheg Stepanyan, Marat Vardanyan, brothers Janvelyan, Rafik Siradeghyan. They spared no effort to prepare young players who later found a place in stronger teams. Among them are Valery Poghosyan, Ashot Papyan, Mikhail Harutyunyan, Eduard Baghdasaryan. These people utterly devoted to rugby still continue their mission gathering and training the youth.
Petros Aslanyan has been loyally serving the game for already 40 years: first as a player, then as a coach, referee and sport organizer. It was thanks to him that the Rugby Federation headed by another former player of Yerevan "Spartak" Gagik Panikyan continues to function in Armenia since 1994. The structure of the Federation includes two associations: young rugby players and veterans of rugby of Armenia. The Chairman of the Association of Veteran Rugby Players is Mushegh Stepanyan. In the current world rugby rankings Armenia occupies the 28th place among more than 100 nations. Two victories of the national team of Armenia last year over the national teams of Israel and Luxembourg considerably lifted it on the ranking list. Though, not a single representative of the local rugby school plays for Armenia today. The national team of Armenia consists of players of Armenian origin born in France and playing for French clubs. Of course, one may counter that the national team of Georgia is also composed of players of French clubs. But Georgian rugby players are basically pupils of the Georgian school of rugby whose founder is our compatriot Jacques Aspekian, who, repatriating to Armenia from France after the war, did not find understanding among sport officials in Armenia and offered his services to the neighboring republic. Of course, it would be desirable if alumni of Armenia's own school appeared in the national team, but for this purpose it is necessary that rugby should be perceived as a national game in Armenia. But it needs patrons and sponsors wishing and ready to raise Armenian rugby to the high international level.