Rugby union in Romania

Rugby union in Romania

Rugby union is a fairly popular team sport played in Romania with a tradition of more than 90 years. Romania's men's national team was 16th in the IRB World Rankings as of February 2008. []


Rugby union was introduced to Romania by students returning with rugby balls from their studies in Paris. Stadiul Roman and seventeen other teams would be formed in Bucharest from 1913 onwards. The Romanian Rugby Championship was first contested in 1914.

The nation's first international was played against the USA in 1919 six years after the game was first introduced. In 1931 a governing body was formed, the Federaţia Română de Rugby.

The first team outside Bucharest was formed at an aircraft factory in Braşov in 1939.

The communist regime used rugby union like it used other sports, as a propaganda tool during the cold war with the West. Every international success was presented as a direct result of the righteousness of the communist rule and ideology. All the financial resources were directed toward the preparation of the national team to the detriment of domestic development. Top players were employed in the army or the police, whose sides Steaua and Dynamo sides who practised six days a week in superb sporting centres. This infrastructure bred a talented national side.

A generation of French school trained coaches from late ’40s, and ’50s built a system and led the national team to success of the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. Home nations sides began to award international caps for matches against Romania in 1983. The national side recorded wins over Wales, Scotland and France.

The FRR joined the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1987 when Romania were invited to take part in the inaugural Rugby World Cup.

After the fall of Communism in 1989, Romanian rugby union suffered a drastic financial shortfall.

In 1995 the first ever Heineken Cup match took place in Romania with Toulouse taking on Farul Constanţa.

Romania first got regular international competition when they joined the newly formed European Nations Cup in 2000. The national side lost to England by 138-0 in 2001 and Dinamo Bucharest lost 151-0 to Saracens in the European Rugby Shield.

Bucureşti Rugby was formed to represent Romania in European club competitions in 2004.

Romania replaced Russia in the Super Cup in 2005.

Governing body

Rugby union in Romania is administered by the Romanian Rugby Federation. The organisation became an official offiliate of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1987 when Romania were invited to take part in the inaugural Rugby World Cup. The current president is George Straton.

National team

The Romania national rugby union team, nicknamed The Oaks, have long been one of the stronger European teams outside of the Six Nations tournament. They take part in international competitions, notably the Rugby World Cup, the European Nations Cup and the Super Powers Cup.

Romania have played at every World Cup so far and won one game at each World Cup, except for 1995 when they lost all the games.

Romania play in the European Nations Cup, a second-level competition for second and third tier European nations. Romania have won the competition on three occasions 2000, 2001-2002 and 2005-2006.

The Antim Cup is contested between Georgia and Romania. The cup is contested each time Georgia and Romania meet in a senior international match other than World Cup matches or qualifiers. The holder retains the cup unless the challenger wins the match in normal time.

Romania replaced Russia in the Super Cup in 2005. Other participants include Canada, Japan and the United States.

Domestic competitions

The Romanian Rugby Championship, which has been contested since 1914 is the main domestic competition.

European club tournaments

In 1995 the first ever Heineken Cup match took place in Romania with Toulouse taking on Farul Constanţa. Since the inaugural season, Romanian teams have not taken part in the Heineken Cup.

A Romanian team has taken part in the European Challenge Cup in 1996/7, 1997/8, 1998/9, 1999/2000, 2001/2, 2002/3, 2005/6 and will take part again in 2006/7. No Romanian teams took part in 2000/1, 2003/4 and 2004/5.

Bucureşti Rugby is a team that is formed to play in European competition, consisting of rugby union players playing in the domestic Romanian leagues. They played in the European Shield in 2004/5 and the Challenge Cup in 2005/6.


Like other sports during the Communist era, rugby union was used as an instrument for propaganda by the regime. In the 1980s the country had more than 12,000 players in 110 clubs.

After the fall of Communism, Romanian rugby union suffered a drastic financial shortfall, its popularity - which never had been comparable with that of football or handball, however, was not diminished.

According to the International Rugby Board Romania has 52 rugby union clubs; 142 referees; 1,200 pre-teen male players; 4,100 teen male players; 1,375 senior male players (total male players 6,675) as well as 150 pre-teen female players; 200 teen female players; 125 senior female players (total female players 475). []

External links

* [ Federaţia Română de Rugby] (official site)
* fr icon en icon []
* [ Planet-Rugby news for Romania]
* [ Weathered Oak: Romanian rugby (from BBC News)]
* [ From riches to rags (from BBC News)]
* []

See also

*Romania national rugby union team
*Romanian Rugby Federation
*Sport in Romania

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