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.