Ivan Belozertsev, the Penza Oblast Governor, and Stanislav Druzhinin, CEO-Chairman of the Board of the Russian Rugby Federation, welcomed players, coaches and fans at the Pervomaysky stadium on Thursday, June 18, 2020.
The Russian championship began with a game between Lokomotiv-Penza and VVA-Podmoskovye clubs.
"It is a great honour for our region to open the Russian Rugby championship," the Governor said. "This sport has been developing in the Penza Oblast for more than 50 years, and we have established very good traditions".
He thanked the management of the Russian Rugby Federation for the decision to hold the opening of this large-scale event, which symbolises the country's gradual return to normal life after the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Penza.
"The fact that there are few people in the stands today is the nowadays reality. But I know and I believe that we will overcome the spread of coronavirus infection if we observe security measures," the head of the region said, wishing athletes and fans a beautiful game.
"Today is a significant and historic day: great sport is returning to the life of our great country, and this return begins with rugby. Today we will be watched not only by the whole of Russia, but also by the whole world," said Stanislav Druzhinin, CEO-Chairman of the Board of the Russian Rugby Federation.
As a sign of gratitude to the medical staff, the athletes of the two clubs came to the stadium in T-shirts with the words "Thank you doctors".
The match score was 18:12, with the "Lokomotiv-Penza" team winning.