Northampton fans

Northampton fans

Northampton Saints today announced that Russian back Vasili Artemiev will be joining the club later this year.

The 23-year-old, who can play either on the wing or at full back, will be a familiar face to supporters who watched the 2010 Churchill Cup. Artemiev scored in all three of Russia’s games, including against the England Saxons, and his effort against Uruguay helped the Bears win the Bowl final.

However his try scoring pedigree goes back to his schooldays at Blackrock College in Ireland, where playing alongside current Irish international Luke Fitzgerald he won schools Junior and Senior Cup medals. He scored two tries for Ireland Schools against England in 2005 and his age group form won him representative honours for Ireland Under-19s and a place in the Leinster Academy.

Upon completing his Bachelor of Law degree at University College, Dublin, Artemiev returned to his native Moscow to join VVA-Podmoskovie, where he has played since 2008.

A full international debut for Russia came in 2009, and he was an ever-present in the latter stages of the Bears’ successful Rugby World Cup qualification campaign that will see them head to New Zealand later in the year.

Artemiev will join up with the Saints once his World Cup commitments have ended, but he is already looking forward to running out at Franklin’s Gardens.

“I’ve heard a lot about the club and followed their recent good form,” he said. “Everyone who I’ve spoken to has given me good feedback about the facilities and coaches, who are among the best in England at the moment. I’m looking forward to coming and learning from them and playing with some good players. The Saints is also one of the best clubs in Europe at the moment and I hope that I can contribute to some success over the next few years.

“I certainly feel that there are some world class players, especially in the positions where I play, and I’m sure I’ll be able to pick up some things that can help me develop as a player and show what I can do in the Premiership.

“When I was at the Leinster Academy I played some English clubs, and playing against the Saxons gave me a feel of the intensity and physicality that’s needed to succeed in England. Having the opportunity to play at that level will put me in a good place for my career to develop.”

Artemiev will be the first Russian to play Aviva Premiership Rugby, and he hopes that if he can play well it will encourage European clubs to sign up more of his countrymen.

“I hope to help some of the younger players in the Russian national team make their way to Europe,” he added. “They’re very keen and are capable of playing at that level, but they’ve never had the exposure or opportunity. Maybe my playing in England will help their career as well.”

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes that Artemiev has the talent to succeed in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

“Vasili really caught the eye during the Churchill Cup last year when he scored three really good tries,” he said. “He has plenty of pace, awareness and raw talent. He is also eager to develop as a player and we’re looking forward to him being a part of the squad at Franklin’s Gardens.”