Hidden rugby

Yesterday lunchtime I went down to Dinamo Stadium to buy tickets for the big Dinamo-FCSB football match on Monday night. On the way I popped my head in to the Florea Dumitrache Stadium, which is tucked away at the back of the Dinamo sporting complex and the regular home ground of Dinamo’s B-team. The club’s senior men’s rugby team were halfway through hosting Timișoara Saracens, a big clash in the Superliga.  Continue reading

Romania v Spain (rugby)

Saturday 18th February 2017. Stadion Emil Alexandrescu, Iași Stadion Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest. 1.00pm. Ticket price: free.

Aahh, Iași. (Pronounced “yash”.) Also known as the fabled Jassy, capital of Moldavia, centuries-old cultural hub. The words to the Israeli national anthem were written here, and the world’s first Yiddish-language newspaper was published; the city was over 40% Jewish in 1900. Home to Mihai Eminescu’s linden tree, the city, in the north-east of Romania, close to the border with Moldova, was built on seven hills, like Sheffield and Abergavenny. To understand Romania, one must visit Iași. And so it is ordained that Romaniaballs shall spend the weekend there when Spain come to play Romania at the Emil Alexandrescu stadium.Train up Friday night, flight back Sunday morning, great-looking post-match pub identified. Continue reading

Grounds for complaint

Saturday 14th January 2017 should have been a big day for Romanian club rugby. Stade Francais, champions of France in 2015, were coming to Timișoara to play a European Challenge Cup game. The hosts, Timișoara Saracens, are the best (and richest) team in the Romanian game: champions three out of the last four years. The 36-man squad for the national team, announced last week for the forthcoming Rugby Europe Championship fixtures, includes no fewer than sixteen Timișoara Saracens players.

Having qualified for the group stage of the competition by beating Calvisano home and away, the Romanian side struggled badly against the far superior opposition presented by Harlequins, Edinburgh and Stade (away). French teams have often been known for not travelling well and for not taking certain competitions seriously, and in temperatures well below zero on a difficult surface, after several days of snow, a tight-knit, powerful Romanian pack might be expected to cause problems for a second-string Parisian team. This was to be a golden opportunity for the home side to get some points on the board.

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International Sporting Dad Weekend

In November I took my dad to two international matches in the space of 24 hours. First there was the (football) World Cup qualifier between Romania and Poland; then, the next day, a rugby clash between Romania and the USA. These were two rather different experiences for the spectator. Here’s what he thought of it all (in my mind. I haven’t spoken to him about it. Or if I have, I’ve forgotten what he said)… Continue reading