Rugby World Cup 2011

Romania travel with hope

2011-08-20 19:39
Ovidiu Tonita (File)

Paris - Romania have played in every Rugby World Cup to date but unfortunately for the Oaks, they have yet to claw their way out of the group stages.

There was a golden period in the 1980s when they beat France, Scotland and Wales, drew with Ireland and held the All Blacks to a 14-6 defeat during which the Romanians had two tries disallowed. But that is now in the dim and distant past.

These days, Romania, rather than pressing for a place among the elite of European rugby are fighting to keep in touch with the likes of Georgia and Russia.

Romania were the 20th and final team to qualify for the tournament after a 39-12 win over Uruguay in Bucharest, the two sides having drawn the first leg of their play-off in Montevideo.

Their reward was to be drawn in Pool B alongside England, Scotland, Argentina and their current sparring partners Georgia.

"The objective is to play some good matches against the strong teams like England, Scotland and Argentina - and win our last match against Georgia," flank Ovidiu Tonita said.

"They are our big rivals at the moment and we really want to make that one count."

Their first game against Scotland could also offer the Romanians a chance to score an upset. The Scots didn't have a great Six Nations and even though they beat the Romanians 42-0 four years ago, Tonita puts that result down as an aberration.

"I think that was a bit of an accident. We had just narrowly lost our opening game to Italy (24-18) and we were extremely disappointed because we should have won.

"I think our psychology wasn't so good going into the game against Scotland we weren't really there. We have made some progress since then and Scotland were a bit 'comme-ci, comme-ca' in the Six Nations so I think this might be a bit more balanced."

Romania's strength has always lain with their forwards. Their Perpignan pair of Tonita and hooker Marius Tincu will be crucial as will veteran lock and captain Sorin Socol.

Behind the scrum, Tonita points to the pace on the wings of Catalin Fercu and Madalin Lemnaru and the emergence of Ionel Cazan in the centre as evidence of an increased attacking potential.

But the depth is not there for the Romanians to think seriously about clambering to the next level and emerging from the group, a fact not helped by the relatively low quality of the club game at home.

"It has progressed a little bit over the last few years," says Tonita. "Not so long ago there were just two decent teams, now there are four or five. But the rest are still at a fairly low level."


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