Carved Russian Bear
Photo:World Rugby Museum
For May’s object of the month we have chosen one of the more unusual items in our collection. This carved wooden bear was a gift given by the Russian Rugby Union to the England XV team on the occasion of their game on the 7th of September 1991. The game was played at Twickenham and the England XV won 53 – 0. The Russia National Rugby Union team is nicknamed the ‘Bears’.
The date on this Russian gift indicates that it was produced just over three months before the disbandment of the Soviet Union on 26th December 1991. The bear and base appear to have been carved from one piece of wood and is styled in a traditional pose. It is possible that it was made in Bogorodsk, now known as Noginsk, an old town near Moscow. Acclaimed for its master wood carvers since the 16th century, the village was once known as Medvezhy Ugol, which translates into ‘Bear’s Corner’ or ‘Bear Place’ because of the thick woods surrounding it.
When the players returned to their country following the 1991 tour they discovered the Soviet Union had been dissolved.