Romania realistic after brutal opening World Cup fixtures

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2023 - Romania Training - Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux, France - September 8, 2023 Romania head coach Eugen Apjok during training REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) – Romania are using the World Cup to blood young talent and did not expect to compete with tier one nations, their head coach Eugen Apjok said, after suffering their second crushing World Cup defeat in a row on Sunday.

While some of the tournament minnows such as Uruguay and Portugal have stepped up to offer real competition to more established teams, Romania looked broken after they followed an opening 82-8 loss to Ireland with an even heavier 76-0 defeat to South Africa.

They also appear to be in decline for a side who in the last two years have beaten Uruguay twice and Tonga once as well as coming close against Argentina in July 2021.

“I don’t like these comparisons, the players that played last year and this year are different, some of these players are very young, our main objective was to give experience to our players and prepare for the next qualification round,” Apjok said.

“We have to rest, we have to improve and learn a lot of lessons from this game. We need more time to improve and we will do our utmost,” he said.

Captain Cristian Chirica echoed the notion that Romania are using the World Cup to build experience in the squad ahead of future tournaments.

“Our team is young, our players are doing their best, we’re trying to grow and these games will make us better for the next qualification round,” he said.

The scattering of Romania fans in the Stade de Bordeaux had precious little to cheer on Sunday as their side shipped twelve tries, although they impressively managed a scrum penalty against the Springboks as well as the odd line break.

They next face yet another top-tier clash against Scotland on Sept. 30, where the goal would appear to be a respectable scoreline after such heavy opening losses.

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