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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 06:33 GMT 07:33 UK
Romania's tough challenge
It is one of those ironies in life that while the fall of president Nicolae Ceaucescu was welcomed by most, it had a detrimental effect on Romanian rugby.

During the time of the Ceaucescu regime, the government were more than happy to help, but once he was ousted and the game turned professional, the sport in Romania was left behind.

Had Romania continued on their steady rise up the international rugby ladder, they might have improved on a World Cup record of three wins from 12 games.

Christain Sauan of Romania against Australia in 1999
Played 12 - W:3 L:9
1987: Pool stage
1991: Pool stage
1995: Pool stage
1999: Pool stage
The Eastern Europeans' only win at the first World Cup in 1987 came against Zimbabwe in their opening match.

Heavy losses at the hands of France and Scotland made sure they would not take any further part in the competition.

It could have been a different story four years later.

After losing their first match against France, there remained a good chance of progressing to the last eight, with only Canada and Fiji standing in their way.

But a narrow 19-11 loss to the North Americans effectively ended their campaign, despite the 17-15 win over Fiji in the final pool match.

The 1995 tournament in South Africa was a very disappointing one for the Romanians, losing all three group matches while only scoring a total of 14 points.

By 1999 the infrastructure of Romanian rugby was crumbling.

Their opening result, a 57-9 thrashing at the hands of Australia, was not exactly the perfect tonic.

But the plucky Europeans had something to shout about in the following match when they overcame the United States, 27-25.

Had the final pool match against Ireland been anywhere but Dublin's Lansdowne Road then perhaps Romania may have reached the quarter-final.

As it was, the predominantly Irish crowd gave the national side the edge.

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