KUMAGAYA, 25 Sep - No one could accuse Ksenia Getmanova of resting on her laurels as she attempts to forge a career in high performance rugby.
Getmanova began playing sevens while studying at the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) in Moscow. However, when the team folded academic commitments made the search for a new side difficult, and her time as a player came to an end.
The 24-year-old instead turned her hand to refereeing and progressed sufficiently to officiate during the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Conference 2018.
It was with the whistle that Getmanova came to the attention of the Rugby Union of Russia, who she worked for as a development manager in youth rugby before, last October, she was approached to become the Bears’ logistics manager on the road to Japan.
“When I was young and played I wanted to be a manager of a team,” Getmanova said.
“But I didn’t know how I could get into the union, how I could work in this.
“After I started refereeing, I started meeting with people from the union, speaking with them, joking, and after they said ‘Maybe you want to work in the union?’
“I worked in the union [coaching] children and organising competitions for children.
“People at the union then asked me ‘Maybe you will work with our team?’ And I said ‘Sure, yes!’”
Although Getmanova grasped that opportunity with both hands, she is reticent to pick a highlight of her fledgling career - “I think it will be in the future” - however, she does describe working at Rugby World Cup 2019 as being the “biggest” role of her life.
She is aware, too, of the potential significance of being a woman employed to look after the movements and equipment of a Russian men’s team at a global sporting event.
Modestly, Getmanova says that she would find it much more difficult to work in an office, insisting “I just do what I do and I like what I do”.
But she is also hopeful that by performing her tasks to the best of her ability she can prove to women and girls back home that they too can work in sport.
“I want to do my job very well, and be a professional,” Getmanova explained.
“I think sometimes it can be hard because I’m a woman in men’s sport [but] if I do my job very well, maybe, other women will think that they can do the same.
“And all people can understand that women can do everything and they can do either a man’s job or a woman’s job.”
Getmanova’s day-to-day target is to make sure that Russia’s players have as little to worry about outside of training and playing as possible.
An average Rugby World Cup day will begin with breakfast with the team before a series of meetings. Once those are out of the way, it is on to training and making sure that the squad make it to the venue and have the kit, balls and equipment needed.
For Captain’s Runs and match-days Getmanova is required to get the changing room ready for the players, which involves laying out yet more kit - Russia have packed 46 shirts for each of their four pool matches.
“Too many jerseys, too many shorts, too many kits for players,” Getmanova joked.
“I get the changing room ready before the game and [organise us] moving.
“So, we speak about programme - when we should go to practice, when we should go to the next city and [how to] move with the kit.”
Relocating from Tokyo, where Russia opened Japan 2019 against the hosts, to Kumagaya for the Pool A game against Samoa was “very easy”, according to Getmanova.
The task of herding 31 players, plus coaching and support staff around the vast country is aided by the convivial relationship she has fostered with the group.
Getmanova turned 24 three days before the tournament kicked off, and the squad made sure that her big day was celebrated in style.
“We are like a big, big family. I had a birthday here and the whole team gave me presents three times [during the] day - morning, dinner and lunch,” she said.
“That was very nice.”
Getmanova’s job has been made easier by a positive performance in the opening match, and she is hopeful that the squad’s appearance in Japan can help boost rugby’s profile in Russia.
“It [has spread] information about the Russian team and World Cup, which is very good,” she said.
“People can see that ‘oh, Russia has rugby and they’re in the World Cup’.
“This is fantastic and many people listen about it, can see some pictures and it’s very good for our popularity.”