Uruguay and Romania eye final World Cup berth
November 12, 2010
Uruguay's Carlos Arboleya and Romania's Socol Sorin pose ahead of their showdown in Montevideo © Getty Images
The battle for the last remaining place at Rugby World Cup 2011 is set to resume this weekend when Uruguay tackle Romania in the first leg of the decisive play-off final.
The two sides will go head-to-head at the Charrua Stadium in Montevideo on Saturday with the crucil second leg set to be played at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Romania on November 27. The winner on aggregate over the two legs will become the 20th and final qualifier for next year's showpiece event and will book a place in Pool B alongside Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia.
Both sides can boast plenty of World Cup experience with Romania having competed in every edition since its inception in 1987, while Uruguay have previously qualified for the 1999 and 2003 tournaments. Both teams have secured their place at the last chance play-off final via an extremely competitive qualification path.
Romania rallied to finish third in the European Nations Cup and then defeated Ukraine 94-10 over two legs in the European play-off before progressing to defeat Tunisia 56-13 in the Europe/Africa play-off to keep their Rugby World Cup 2011 dream alive.
Uruguay progressed to the Americas play-off via the South American Championship, losing to USA 54-28 over two legs. A 44-7 victory over Kazakhstan in the Americas/Asia play-off kept them in the hunt for the final qualification place.
Top referee Mark Lawrence will take charge of the match in Montevideo which is set to attract a capacity crowd and with home advantage very much a factor, Uruguay know that they have to lay down a decent marker if they are to qualify for their third Rugby World Cup.
"We need a win here for sure and we are hoping to get a lot of support from the crowd. It is crucial we get a good performance at home. Our primary objective is to win," said Uruguay captain Carlos Arboleya.
Romania have won both previous encounters between the two teams, but with the largest winning margin just six points and both wins coming on home soil in Bucharest, they are expecting a tough encounter on Saturday.
"I don't want to be in the team that does not qualify for a Rugby World Cup. I've been telling the younger players that participating at Rugby's showcase event is the best memory they will ever have," said Romania captain Sorin Socol. "We have worked very hard. We made many sacrifices and we want to qualify."
With the start of Rugby World Cup 2011 just 10 months away, the matches herald the end of a thrilling global qualification process which began in the Cayman Islands in April 2008, and has seen 182 matches played so far involving 80 teams, across the six IRB Regions.
The process has seen Russia qualify for their first ever Rugby World Cup, with Georgia, Canada, Samoa, Namibia, USA and Japan sealing the other qualification places.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action
The latest Week in Pictures takes in some original ways of welcoming teams to the field and plenty of tries from the European Champions Cup