Episode 4 in the long-running and very confusing telenovela that is the 2018 Rugby Europe Championship. If the European qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup are series one of Twin Peaks, then we are now at the bit where we see Leland seeing Bob in the mirror. (I think.)*
If you don’t know what’s been going on up to this point, and you have a bit of time, I implore you to read my posts view episodes 1, 2 and 3 before continuing; otherwise what follows will mean very little.
These things elicit a certain reaction from me, which I cannot control: Chrissy Waddle’s mullet; Platty’s last-gasp volley against Belgium; the ball ballooning off Paul Parker’s back and over Shilton’s head into the net; and, especially, Gary Lineker gesturing to the bench to “have a word”. And if you spent a lifetime striving to compose a piece of music perfectly suited to soundtracking slow-motion footage of men in short shorts glowing with sweat on hot Italian evenings, fouling each other, diving extravagantly to get each other booked, and missing important penalties, you could not do better than the lad Puccini with his smash hit aria Nessun Dorma.
“I don’t want to think that rugby has prostituted itself in order to leave us out. When they assigned us the Romanian referees, it shocked us, but this is rugby, some values are assumed.” (Spain captain Jaime Nava)
The 2018 Rugby Europe Championship came to a controversial, even farcical end this weekend. If you care for the dignity of rugby union or for its development prospects in Tier 2 nations, look away now. Continue reading →
My second Academia Rapid home game – again well attended, but seriously lacking in quality and notable mainly for the appearance of the much-loved 40-year-old striker Daniel Pancu, is detailed here.
Excitingly, Romaniaballs also paid a visit to second-division MetaloglobusBucurești in far-off Pantelimon. Field notes here.
Direct your mouse pointer or index finger to the “I was here” section on the menu if you want more whimsical, inaccurate match ‘reports’. And who doesn’t?
In other good news for the old guys, 39-year-old BogdanLobonț showed the strength in depth of Romanian goalkeeping by being named in the provisional squad for the national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Denmark. “Lobby”, a former team-mate of Pancu’s at Rapid, before going on to play for Ajax and later Dinamo, won 85 caps between 1998 and 2013. He is now in his ninth season at AS Roma, where he has made the grand total of 22 competitive appearances for the club. This man, who was the oldest member of the squad when he last featured for Romania in 2013, is apparently still considered the country’s fourth-best goalkeeper four years later, despite not having played a competitive match at all during the intervening time.
The squad was selected the day before Christoph Daum’s successor as national team boss, Cosmin Contra, started work at the federation. The qualifiers, incidentally, are dead rubbers, since Romania can no longer qualify for Russia 2018. The club Contra has just left, Dinamo, have appointed Chiajna coach Vasile Miriuță to replace him; they have lost to FCSB and Chiajna in the week since then and the Pit is not a happy place. The team Miriuță coached last season, CFR Cluj, now under Dan Petrescu, are still top of the table and going strong.