Romania and Uruguay set for winner-takes-all clash
November 25, 2010
Romania's Madalin Lemnaru stretches the Uruguay defence during their first-leg clash in Montevideo © Getty Images
Romania and Uruguay will go head-to-head at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest on Saturday with the winner set to claim the 20th and final place at Rugby World Cup 2011.
The two sides battled to a 21-all draw in Montevideo earlier this month in the first leg of their decisive play-off final to set up this weekend's showdown. The winner of the game will join Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia in Pool B at next year's showpiece event in New Zealand.
The crucial match, which will be overseen by Rugby World Cup 2007 Final referee Alain Rolland, also marks the end of a thrilling 31-month global qualification process for rugby's showcase tournament which has seen 80 teams compete in 183 matches so far. The European process involved the most with 31 IRB Member Unions playing in a total of 95 matches, while Oceania - the last region to get underway - only had five teams playing a total of five matches.
Sorin Socol will lead Romania tomorrow at the ground where he started playing Rugby, seeking to make his third and last Rugby World Cup tournament. "It's a big honour to lead this team. It is always exciting to know you will be playing in a Rugby World Cup and you have to do everything to be there. We have the last hard game and we are ready and we have worked hard to win," said Socol.
Uruguay captain Carlos Arboleya admits it will be a tough test but has the ultimate prize of a Pool B match against neighbours Argentina at Rugby World Cup on offer. "Romania are bigger, they have lots of players who have been in World Cups so we will have to keep our concentration and keep tight with our system and do our best," said Arboleya. "It would be a great thing to have a game against Argentina in a World Cup but I am not thinking about that now, I am just thinking about tomorrow."
Romania are battling to maintain their 100% Rugby World Cup attendance record, while Uruguay must pull off a first ever win over Romania to reach their third Rugby World Cup tournament, having previously qualified in 1999 and 2003.
Romania or Uruguay will join Canada, Georgia, Japan, Namibia, Russia, Samoa and USA in reaching Rugby's showpiece tournament via the qualification route.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do