Tunisia v Romania in Buzau
Venue: Stadionul Gloria
This is the first of two Rugby World Cup repecharge semi-finals to be played this weekend. The other is between Uruguay and Kazakhstan. The winner of each semi-final will meet in the Repecharge final, the venue to depend on who has the highest IRB Rankings place.
Tunisia has had a tough international time since qualifying for this playoff round in 2009. They lost to Namibia by aggregate points in November last year, the Namibians automatically qualifying for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Finals. Since then Tunisia squeezed a 25-22 win over Arabian Gulf at home. In the 2010 Africa Cup Pool play, held in Tunis, they narrowly defeated Senegal by 1 point and then lost 6-29 to the Moroccans in the final. Those results would most likely see Tunisia out of contention for the Africa Cup, and were certainly a worrying signal that Tunisia was already out of its depth as far as qualifying for the World Cup Finals. What is frustrating is the lack of media communication about this match from Tunisia. I have no idea of the composition of their squad. It looks as though as far as Tunisia is concerned this match doesn't exist!
Romania has had to battle harder for the place they hold in the qualifying rounds by comparison. Having finished third in the 2008-10 European Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying rounds (Georgia and Russia, 1st and 2nd, qualified automatically) they then faced Ukraine home-away. They successfully steered themselves past that hurdle which now brings them to a one off play off against Tunisia. Battle harder they may have but this has hardened the Romanians for this task.
Although missing a number of France-based players, Romania's traditional strength, there is still a look of certainty about the Romanians. Most are experienced campaigners and they have had a longer build up history compared to the underdone Tunisians. Playing on home turf, if a little removed from Bucharest, the Romanians should waltz in.
08.05.1993 Romania 51-0 in Bucharest (FIRA A2)
05.10.1986 Romania 37-9 in Constanta (FIRA A, Rnd 2)
03.05.1986 Tunisia 17-15 in Monastir (FIRA A, Rnd 1)
05.05.1985 Romania 30-3 in Constanta (FIRA A)
Romania Under 23 defeated Tunisia 15-7 in Tunis in May 2009.
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-Romania 19th, Tunisia 27th
IRB Rankings-Romania 19th (65.10), Tunisia 23rd (52.24)
Prediction: Romania by 47 points
15. Florin Vlaicu (CSA Steaua Bucuresti)
14. Catalin Fercu (CSU Arad)
13. Ionut Dimofte (CSM Baia Mare)
12. Csaba Gal (CSM Baia Mare)
11. Stefan Ciuntu (CSM Baia Mare)
10. Danut Dumbrava (CSA Steaua Bucuresti)
9. Valentin Ivan (CS Dinamo Bucuresti)
8. Alexandru Manta (Lyon, France)
7. Daniel Ianus (CSA Steaua Bucuresti)
6. Stelian Burcea, Capt. (CSU Arad)
5, Valentin Ursache (CSM Baia Mare)
4. Marius Sirbe (Tarbes, France)
3. Samuel Maris (CSA Steaua Bucuresti)
2. Cezar Popescu (Saint Medard en Jalles, France)
1. Mihai Lazar (Saint Etienne Caserugby, France)
16. Andrei Radoi (CSM Baia Mare)
17. Radu Basalau (CSU Arad)
18. Cristian Petre (AS Beziers, France)
19. Daniel Carpo (RCJ Farul Constanta)
20. Valentin Calafeteanu (CSU Arad)
21. Ionel Cazan (CSA Steaua Bucuresti)
22. Catalin Nicolae (RCJ Farul Constanta)
Head Coach: Romeo Gontineac