Sunday, November 16, 2008

Test Rugby: Belgium v Moldova

Belgium v Moldova in Chisinau (WCQ Europe R2; ENC 2A)

Belgium squeaked passed Ukraine in their first game of the season. This will be Moldova's first. The standard between the teams in this competition looks very even. Yesterday we saw Poland upset Czech Republic 13-7 and in early October the Ukraine defeated Poland 13-12.

Belgium has been one of the high flyers in European rugby. They have embarked on a rugby promotional programme which has seen Argentina and the British Barbarians play in Brussels. Their team has also been up there close with the leaders of Continental rugby. They were only just pipped by Germany last season in the race for a place in Division 1. They have sent a strong team to Chisinau and they remain favourites to win.

Moldova is a rugby playing country that we hear little about. But they have quietly worked their way up the European rugby ladder in the last five years. Their first year in the present format of the European Nations Cup, 2003, saw them competing successfully in Division 3A.

In late 2004 they entered the 2007 World Cup qualifying rounds defeating Denmark and Luxembourg, but lost to Germany (18-27) and suprisingly to Austria. They qualified for Round 3 and began with a shock 30-27 win over the Netherlands. The world began to take notice. They lost to Spain but went on to defeat Poland (27-13), with Spain eventually progressing.

This success story continued the next season when they were, on their qualifying efforts, promoted to ENC 2A. They promptly celebrated their rise in stature with a 26-24 win over Germany. This was in November 2006. They continued to dominate the first round with more wins, crushing the Netherlands, and then narrowly defeating both the Ukraine and Belgium in away games. Suddenly Moldova was a likely candidate for promotion into Division 1. But then rugby went pear-shaped for Moldova. The warning signs were out after a narrow win against the Netherlands. A week later Germany crushed the Moldovans 34-7 and then lost to both Belgium and Ukraine at home. Wins in the last two games could well have propelled the Moldovans into Division 1. Not so.

Today the Moldovans have a lot to play for. A new two-year competition and a lot more hard work is ahead of them if they are to keep in contention for that ellusive promotion. It could start here in Chisinau. They will have to be at the top of their game to defeat Belgium.

Previous Encounters
12.04.2008 Belgium 22-19 in Chisinau (ENC 2A)
21.04.2007 Moldova 29-27 in Brussels (ENC 2A)
07.04.2001 Belgium 26-10 in Brussels (FIRA Pool1; WCQ Euro. R1)

GWC Rugby Rankings: Europe Table-Belgium 14th, Moldova 15th

Prediction: Belgium by 2 points.

Julien Berger (Stade Rochelais, France)
Bertrand Billi (Soignies)
Dries Bovijn (Boitsfort)
Jérôme Cauwe (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
Aurélien Decerf (Arras, France)
Thomas Dienst (Lyon, France)
Denis Eppe (Rugby Ottignies Club)
Charles Fourneau (Lille, France)
Damien Godefroy, Capt. (Lille, France)
Dirk Haghedooren (Lille, France)
Mathew Hocken (Brussels Barbarians RFC)
Simon Marote (Arras, France)
Julien Massimi (Arras, France)
Alain Miriallakis (St.Nazaire, France)
James Mulumba (Domont, France)
Cyril Nana (Lille, France)
David Nemsadze (Domont, France)
Joseph Nwema (Surennes, France)
Frédéric Rongé (Haywards Heath, England)
Mathieu Verschelden (ASUB Rugby Waterloo)
Alan Williams (Castres, France)
Kevin Williams (Arras, France)
Head Coach: Richard McClintock

Moldova squad
Dumitru Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Victor Arhip (Dinamo Bucureşti, Romania)
Anton Bajutinde (Olimp - Electromaş Tiraspol)
Adrian Baltag (USEFS Blumarine)
Vasile Bolea (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Ion Buşilă (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Caburgan (USEFS Blumarine)
Sergiu Castraveţ (USEFS Blumarine)
Nicolae Chirilă (Krasniy Yar-Krasnoyarsk, Russia)
Maxim Cobîlaş (Steaua Bucureşti, Romania)
Vadim Cobîlaş (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Vitalie Coropcean (UTM Chişinău)
Alexei Cotruţa (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Maxim Gargalîc (Farul Constanţa, Romania)
Vitalie Gîra (UTM Chişinău)
Vasile Leu (UTM Chişinău)
Veaceslav Lozinschii (USEFS Blumarine)
Octavian Manoli (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Alexandr Matveev (USEFS Blumarine)
Andrei Romanov (VVA-Podmoskovje, Russia)
Alexandru Şîşcan, Capt. (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Pavel Titarenco (Olimp Electromaş Tiraspol)
Veaceslav Titica (Slava Moscow, Russia)
Dumitru Vasilachi (RC Kredo 63, Ukraine)
Gheorghe Volosciuc (USEFS Blumarine)
Constantin Zubco (USEFS Blumarine)
Head Coach: Vasile Revencu

For lists of all international rugby tests played by Belgium, and by Moldova, go to

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