Pool C - Romania
The Romanians can be expected to beat Portugal and will be attempting to win two matches for the first time in their fifth appearance at the World Cup. A heavy defeat to New Zealand is anticipated but they will hope to push both Italy and Scotland close with the aim of winning one of these matches.
Centre Romeo Gontineac, who has 71 caps and plays his club rugby in France, will be playing in his fourth World finals and captained the team four years ago. In addition, 14 other squad members played at the 2003 World Cup including Petru Balan, Razvan Mavrodin, Gabriel Brezoianu and Ionut Tofan who will all be appearing in their third tournament.
Romania beat both Italy A and Namibia at the IRB Nations Cup in Bucharest earlier this summer with noteworthy performances produced by young scrum half Valentin Calafeteanu. The squad is coached by the Frenchman Daniel Santamans and includes 17 players from French clubs.
Coach: Daniel Santamans (NZ)
Captain: Sorin Socol
IRB Ranking: 16
Appearances: 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003
Odds to win: 500/1
Number of clubs: 52
Number of Registered players: 7,150
Matches MT W D L
16 4 0 12
Points For Against
Scores Tr Con Pen DG
25 10 28 1
The versatile front row forward, who can play both prop and hooker, first played for the ‘Oaks' in 1998; 2007 is his third World Cup. His inclusion in Biarritz Olympique in France means that he is one of the most high profile of Romania's forwards. Previous clubs include Dinamo-Bucuresti and FC Grenoble. He was part of the team that lost the 2006 Heineken Cup final to Munster.
The out half scored a penalty and conversion against Ireland during Romania's 45 – 17 defeat during RWC 2003. When the squad was announced recently the team manager, Frenchman Robert Antonin referred to the player's versatility saying that Tofan can play both outhalf and centre. Known as the Jonny Wilkinson of Romanian rugby, Tofan has a sports degree to build upon whenever his professional career ends.
The centre and team captain from 2003, when he appeared against Ireland, faces his fourth campaign and is an important squad member in terms of experience alone. He commented that Romania's group this time out is stronger than the three previous tournaments, but that the team has improved its skills. Gontineac played rugby in South Africa for two years following RWC 1995 where he honed his skills.
Another who played against Ireland at the last tournament the lock, who lines out for French club Pau, will captain the team at RWC 2007 having made his debut back in 2001 against Spain. He scored a try during Romania's recent 41 – 10 win against Neath and will be looking for a repeat performance during the tournament. The captain is both large and quick for a lock which often makes a difference at the breakdown.
Rugby in Romania
Romanian students returning from Paris brought the game of rugby home. The first teams were formed in Bucharest from 1913 on and the first Romanian Rugby Championship was contested in 1914. Rugby became an instrument of the Communist Party during the Cold War. The government used international success at sport to justify communist rule and ideology, with financial resources being directed towards the preparation of the national team to the detriment of domestic development. In post-communist Romania funding for rugby was scarce, but the popularity of the sport has continued.