Union Federaţia Română de Rugby
Nickname(s) The Oaks
Coach Template:Country data Romania Marin Moţ
Captain Sorin Socol
Kit left arm Kit body Kit right arm
Kit shorts
Kit socks
Team colours
Kit left arm Kit body thinyellowsides Kit right arm
Kit shorts
Kit socks
Change colours
First international
Romania 0–21 United States of America
(1 July, 1919)
Largest win
Template:Country data BUL 0–100 Template:Ru-rt
(21 September, 1976)
Worst defeat
England 134–0 Romania
(17 November, 2001)
World Cup
Appearances 6 (First in 1987)
Best result One win, 1987, 1991, 1999, 2003 and 2007

The Romania national rugby union team, nicknamed The Oaks (Stejarii), have long been one of the stronger European teams outside of the Six Nations tournament. They take part in international competitions, notably the World Cup, the European Nations Cup and the Super Cup. Rugby union in Romania is administered by the Romanian Rugby Federation. They play in yellow and blue strips.

France first played Test rugby against Romania in 1924 when they tried to establish a rival to the Five Nations championship. At their best, during the 1980s, the national side defeated Wales (twice), Scotland (the 1984 Grand Slam side) and France (twice). In 1981, they lost to the All Blacks 14-6 but had two tries disallowed. Many felt it was wrong for the rugby powers to fail to bring them in to top-flight competition. There are even rumours that the Oaks were invited to join but refused because the championship took place during their winter break. However, with the subsequent deterioration of the domestic political and economic situation in the country rugby in Romania suffered.

Nonetheless Romania have played in every Rugby World Cup since the first competition was held in 1987 in Australia and New Zealand, with their best result being a win during the pool stages. However, the likes of Georgia have challenged Romania for top spot below the Six Nations, and Georgia, along with Portugal have both won the European Nations Cup (or Six Nations B). Romania played in Pool C at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, along with Portugal, the New Zealand, Italy and Scotland.


Early historyEdit

The game itself was introduced by students returning with rugby balls from their studies in Paris to form clubs such as Stadiul Roman from 1913 onwards. Seventeen other teams would be formed in the capital, Bucharest.

Romania's first international was played against the USA in 1919. France first played rugby union against Romania in May 1924 when they tried to establish a rival to the Five Nations Championship (now the Six Nations). France were victorious by 59 points to 3.

Romania were one of three teams who entered the 1924 Olympics in Paris. France won 59-3, scoring 13 tries including four by the fine Stade Francais winger Adolphe Jaureguy. The USA then defeated Romania 39-0. Romania finishing third claimed the bronze medal. The Federaţia Română de Rugby was formed in 1931. In 1939 a team was formed in Braşov at an aircraft factory. This was the first team outside Bucharest.

Post-World War IIEdit

The communist regime used rugby union like it used other sports, as a propaganda tool during the cold war with the West. Every international success was presented as a direct result of the righteousness of the communist rule and ideology. All the financial resources were directed toward the preparation of the national team to the detriment of domestic development. Top players were employed in the army or the police, whose sides Steaua and Dynamo sides who practised six days a week in superb sporting centres. This infrastructure bred a talented national side.

A generation of French school trained coaches from late ’40s, and ’50s built a system and led the national team to success of the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. In this era Romania began to compete more regularly against the major nations. Their first win over France came in 1960, and in 1976 they made a tour of New Zealand. Exposure to international rugby developed the country's game and they began to form their own distinctive style of play, built around giant, bruising packs. That they were emerging as a real force on the world stage became clear at Cardiff Arms Park in 1979 in an unofficial, non-cap match. The Oaks led going into the dying minutes, only a last-gasp drop goal from Gareth Davies salvaged a 13-12 victory for Wales. The improvement continued in 1980, when Romania crushed the French in a record 15-0 win in Bucharest. A trip to Lansdowne Road then yielded a 13-13 draw against Ireland.

In the 1980s the country boasted more than 12,000 players in 110 clubs. Home nations sides began to award international caps for matches against Romania in 1983. Wales travelled to Bucharest in November 1983 and were totally overwhelmed, falling to a 24-6 defeat. Romania's first win over Scotland came in Bucharest in 1984 and their first away win against Five Nations opposition came in 1988 against Wales; 15-9 at Cardiff Arms Park.

Their national side beat Wales (twice - 1983: 24 - 6 in Romania, 1988: 15-9 in Wales), Scotland (the 1984 Grand Slam side 28 - 22 in Romania), France (twice 1980: 15 - 0 in Romania, 1982: 13 - 9 in Romania) and drew with Ireland (13-13, in 1980, at Dublin). In 1981, they lost to the All Blacks 14-6 but had two tries disallowed. Many felt it was wrong for the rugby union powers to fail to bring them in to top-flight competition. There are even rumours that the Oaks were invited to join but refused because the championship took place during their winter break. Romanian beat Zimbabwe 21-20 in their first ever Rugby World Cup match in 1987 but did not win any other games and failed to progress beyond the group stage.

After the collapse of CommunismEdit

However, with the deterioration of the domestic political and economic situation in the country in the 1990s, Romanian rugby union suffered; the two leading rugby union teams - Dinamo Bucharest and Steaua Bucharest, represented the police and the army respectively, so their state funding fell. Several leading rugby union players lost their lives in the 1989 revolution. Among the dead was Romania's skipper, Florică Murariu, an army officer who was shot dead at a roadblock.

Post-revolution, Romanian rugby union was still alive and kicking. In 1990 they recorded their best win to date by beating France 12-6 on French soil for the first time. The following year they beat Scotland 18-12. At the 1991 World Cup they managed to beat Fiji 17-15 and as recently as the 1995 World Cup, Romania held the eventual winners South Africa to a highly respectable 21-8. Romania lost 134-0 to england.

The professionalism that followed immediately upon the heels of that World Cup was the undoing of the sport in Romania. Approximately 200 Romanian players are thought to be playing in France and Italy. It wasn't just playing numbers that suffered, but a whole generation of potential referees and administrators was lost to the game. By 1994 Romania's rugby fortunes had declined sharply, when a Welsh team travelled to Bucharest for an uncapped international the visitors came away with a 16-9 win. In 1997 the Romanians toured Wales. They lost 36-21 to Wales A at Pontypridd and 70-21 in a test held in Wrexham. At the 1999 World Cup Romania could again only manage a single win 27-25 against the United States. Since then Romania's playing numbers have dropped by 75% while its clubs have dwindled to just 28, none of which can boast its own clubhouse.

The new millenniumEdit

File:Ireland vs Gergia rugby match.jpg

In 2000, Romania won the first European Nations Cup by a large margin, recording victories in all four matches. By 2001, Romania had been caught by the likes of Georgia who defeated them to take the 2001 European Nations Cup, crowned with a decisive 31-20 win over Romania in Bucharest. The national side lost to England by 134-0 in 2001 and Dinamo Bucharest lost 151-0 to Saracens in the European Rugby Shield. Several French-based players refused to turn up for the England debacle simply because their clubs refused to pay them for the week. Players in that Romanian squad were getting £30 a day in expenses while England's top earners scooped £6,000 for their afternoon's work.

In January 2002, Bernard Charreyre was appointed coach of the national team both supplied by and paid by the French Rugby Federation (FFR). Under Charreyre (known by The Oaks as 'Little Napoleon'), the “Oaks”’s decline has been stopped and the team has started to slowly climb from the basement of international rugby union. With a change of format in the European Nations Cup, Romania started in 2002 trailing Georgia due to the inclusion of 2001 results. The Oaks managed to win all of the remaining five games, including a hard-fought 31-23 victory in Tbilisi to win the tournament. They qualified for the World Cup in 2003, where they beat Namibia and lost to Ireland (45-17), after an honourable display, and then to Australia (90-8) and Argentina (50-3). Charreyre was dismissed after the World Cup as the Romanian Federation was not satisfied by the World Cup performance and decided not to renew his contract. Three other French coaches followed: first, Phillipe Sauton, for a very short period, Robert Antonin as a temporary stand-in and then the current coach Daniel Santamans.

In the 2003-2004 European Nations Cup, Portugal were surprise 16-15 winners over Romania in Lisbon and installed themselves on the top of the 2003 table. In the second half of the competition, Romania seemed back on track (36-6 against Portugal in Constanţa), but went down 24-33 to Russia in Krasnodar following allegations of players having been doped. Then Portugal clinched their first title with a last-minute 19-18 win over Russia in Lisbon. In 2004, the Romanians scored a narrow 25-24 victory over Italy, their first victory to date over a Six Nations Championship side.

In 2005 Romania was given 'second tier' status by the IRB and replaced Russia in the Super Powers Cup. The USA beat a Romanian team stripped of their France-based players 23-16 in the third place play-off. The 2005-06 European Nations Cup also served as a qualifiying group for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Romania triumphed despite finishing level on points with Georgia.

Romania qualified for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, finishing at the top of their pool during the Round 5 of the European qualifying tournaments. Romania won their first qualifying match on October 7, defeating Georgia in Bucharest 20-8. Their 43-20 win over Spain in Madrid on October 14 ensured that they qualified directly for the World Cup in 2007. In June 2007, Romania will host the IRB Nations Cup in Bucuresti.




World CupEdit

File:Scotland Romania Lineout.jpg
1987Invited. One win in pool stages.
1991Qualified. One win in pool stages.
1995Qualified. No wins in pool stages.
1999 to 2003Qualified. One win in pool stages.
2007Qualified. One win in pool stages.

Notable playersEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

Template:International rugby union Template:Nations Cup

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