IN SEARCH OF PAST GLO­RIES

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CON­TENTS -

Ro­ma­nia have a proud rugby her­itage that they would like to rekin­dle.

Ro­ma­nia have a pack that can hold their own but strug­gle to move the ball out wide and cre­ate space. They hope, though, to fix that fail­ing writes MICHEL ESTI­ENNE.

THEY AR­RIVE IN ENG­LAND AS..?

Con­trary to 2011, Ro­ma­nia, now rank­ing 18th, will ar­rive with a good level of con­fi­dence, hav­ing qual­i­fied with­out break­ing a sweat for this World Cup. In or­der to avoid any nasty sur­prises, Hari Du­mi­tras, Pres­i­dent of the Ro­ma­nian rugby union, has ap­pointed ex­pe­ri­enced Welsh coach Lyn How­ells. How­ells had been as­sis­tant coach in Gra­ham Henry’s Welsh staff dur­ing the 1999 World Cup.

WHAT TYPE OF FOOT­BALL WILL THEY PLAY?

Ro­ma­nia use a bruis­ing for­ward-ori­en­tated brand of rugby. In terms of power and set piece, the Oaks could put ma­jor teams to shame. How­ever, Ro­ma­nia are not a cre­ative side. Their back­line of­ten strug­gle to get over the gain­line and choose in­stead to kick. As How­ells ex­plains: “Peo­ple have to ap­pre­ci­ate that we are go­ing to grind our way to tries. We are not New Zealand or Aus­tralia.”

For this com­pe­ti­tion, the Welsh coach has picked South­ern Hemi­sphere-el­i­gi­ble play­ers in an at­tempt to com­pen­sate for his back­line’s lack of phys­i­cal strength.

WILL THERE BE ONE PAR­TIC­U­LAR GAME THEY TAR­GET?

Their first game, against France, will have a par­tic­u­lar qual­ity. The Oaks have come across France twice in a World Cup (1987, 1991). Those were hard, tense games. Dur­ing this World Cup, France and Ire­land will be out of reach, but Canada and a fail­ing Italy should be­ware of the men from the Carpathian Moun­tains. After all, back in the 2007 World Cup, the Oaks came close to cre­at­ing an up­set against Italy (24-18).

DO THEY HAVE ENOUGH PER­SON­NEL DEPTH?

No. The four Ro­ma­ni­ans play­ing in Top 14 are in mi­nor clubs. Five oth­ers play in French sec­ond di­vi­sion clubs. Fercu is the only one to play for a ma­jor club. For the rest, they play in the pro­fes­sional Ro­ma­nian Su­perLiga. Fly-half has al­ways been a prob­lem­atic po­si­tion for the Oaks, that is why none of the play­ers tested by How­ells since 2002 have proved sat­is­fac­tory. Former Taranaki and North­land player Mike Wiringi and Emerg­ing Spring­boks Jody Rose are ex­pected as mes­si­ahs.

POST TOUR­NA­MENT HOPES..?

That back­line play­ers get no­ticed by French or English clubs and sign pro con­tracts to play in ma­jor leagues.

BACKS TO THE WALL: Ro­ma­nia need some cre­ativ­ity.

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