Romania Rugby eyes Rugby World Cup: Interview with Andy Robinson

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Romania Rugby has their eyes firmly set on Rugby World Cup 2023. The suspension of Russia by World Rugby may just have enabled Romania to plan for a trip to France.

Romania Rugby update

Current Romania Rugby coach, Andy Robinson, chatted to Ryan Jordan about Russia’s suspension, what he saw in the Romanian squad when he accepted the job and what he is trying to bring to the team.

The impact of the suspension of Russia

Robinson was asked what the impact of Russia’s suspension would mean for Romania Rugby’s Rugby World Cup qualification chances, he answered:

“Firstly, we have to show solidarity with Ukraine. We would all be in a terrible position to play a game against a nation that has just invaded a neighbouring country. They should be sanctioned and they have been. In terms of the qualifying competition that they have been playing in, all their previous games should be erased to create a clear picture of the standings of the remaining teams in the competition.”

This would mean that the likely top three will be left to fight it out for either direct qualification into Rugby World Cup 2023, or a final qualifier tournament. The winner and runner-up of the European competition will qualify directly for the tournament. The winner will be placed into Pool B, comprising of South Africa, Ireland and the Asia/Pacific 1 qualifier. The runner-up will be placed in Pool C with Wales, Australia and the winner of the Final Qualifier tournament.

The choice to work for Rugby Romania

When asked what made him opt to coach Romania in September 2019 after they had failed to qualify for the Rugby World Cup for the first time in their history, he said the following:

“I saw potential in their squad. They had a strong group of youngsters, with a few very good older players to support them. All but three of their squad have been developed through their own structures.

“The strong Romanian teams of the 80’s and 90’s based their game on a strong set-piece.  I saw potential in rebuilding that part of their game. However, the way the game is being officiated now means that referees are focusing on speed of play, safety and space. To handle that, the squad has to be very fit to handle the increased intensity. When I took over the team, they were averaging about 30 minutes of ball in play time. This has since increased to 37 minutes.

Robinson continued, “We have had to do a lot of work on both attack and defence. We also had to work on improving catching skills, passing, and how to dominate collisions.”

Takeouts from coaching a Tier 2 Nation

Robinson was then asked, ‘You have coached at both international and Premiership level. What has stood out for you over the last three years coaching a Tier 2 international level?’

He replied: “The passion for the game is similar to that in the UK. There is also a lot of willingness to learn and grow. It has improved me as a coach too. Due to the language barrier, instructions need to be very clear. I also have to give a lot of guidance.

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“Getting enough game time is a concern though. There are really good players in Europe, but they are not playing consistently good rugby at a consistently good level. The financial situation in Romania means that the team does not travel much. The Romanian league season does not start until April, so players on an off weekend during the European Rugby Championship don’t have game time. This is further compounded by the fact that the Romanian league, which consists of only six teams. Only four of those are really competitive.”

Closing comment from Romania head coach

“Romania gave the touring Argentina team a fright last year. They were pegged at 17-all at home and lost out to a late try. With enough consistently good rugby, played against teams ranked higher than them in the World Rugby rankings they can once again be a strong team.  Rugby World Cup 2023 in France presents them with the opportunity to play against the world’s top rugby teams.”

This article was made possible by the kind courtesy and outreach of Romanian Rugby.

 

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