IN SEARCH OF PAST GLORIES
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.