When Russia take on Ireland in Kobe on Thursday (kick-off 11.15am BST), captain Vasily Artemyev and assistant coach Mark McDermott will bring a unique insight into the team ranked 16 places above them in the world.
Irishman McDermott, a former Leinster and Munster hooker who played alongside the likes of John Hayes, Anthony Foley and Mick Galwey in the 1990s, has spent the last three years commuting to and from Russia to train The Bears.
Two Senior Cup wins followed - one more than O'Driscoll - before Artemyev played with Ireland at underage level, finished his studies and joined Northampton en route back to Russia, whom he will represent for the 89th time in Kobe.
Describing the Irish set-up as "like out of a fairytale" where century-old team photos cover school corridors, Artemyev hopes Russia can build similar fundamentals after a difficult 90-year history for a sport which this World Cup could help transform.
Artemyev's time in Dublin comes in handy for McDermott when he needs to communicate with a Russian pack that have surprised many in competitive outings against Japan and Samoa.
McDermott, who coached at Irish underage level for a number of years and led his country to the 2004 Junior World Cup final, was well out of the professional game and working in telecoms in Trinidad and Tobago when, partly based on the recommendation of Italy coach Conor O'Shea, he got a call out of the blue.
Still stunned that Ireland lost to hosts Japan last week, McDermott is a little more circumspect, noting how this will only be Russia's second Test against tier-one opposition since 2011.