There are two stages left in the 2022 edition of the Rugby Europe Championship competition, Europe’s second most important rugby championship. In the final, on March 20, we will know the two teams that are directly qualified to next year's World Cup to be held in France. The two teams will be the first two in the cumulative ranking of the 2021 and 2022 editions. At the moment, Georgia is on the first place, with 31 points from 7 matches. It is followed by Spain, with 25 points, Romania, with 22 points, and Portugal, with 21 points, all from 8 matches.
Fighting for the second place will be the three above-mentioned teams, given that Russia was suspended from international rugby competitions, as announced by World Rugby, the world governing body for the sport of rugby union, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "The decision was made in the interest of solidarity, integrity and respect for rugby," the international federation writes in a communique.
The match between Georgia and Russia, which was supposed to take place at the weekend in Tbilisi, was initially postponed, then it was cancelled, just like Russia’s last two matches against Portugal and the Netherlands, scheduled for March. However, World Rugby did not specify the consequences of this suspension in the qualifying process.
For Romania’s team, the chances to occupy the second place in the final ranking now depend mainly on the result of the game with Georgia, scheduled for March 12, in Bucharest. Last weekend, "Stejarii – the Oaks" compromised their status as favorites, losing the game played in Madrid with Spain. The Spanish team won 38 to 21, scoring five tries. The Romanian team had a weak game, full of mistakes both in defense and in handling the ball, especially in the first part of the match. However, they scored three tries, two of them by the New Zealand player Hinckley Vaovasa and one by Marius Simionescu.
The Romanians’ first try was converted by Ionel Melinte, and the next two, by Daniel Plai. Unfortunately, if they play as they did in Madrid, the Romanian rugbyists have no chance against the Georgians who, in recent years, have not been defeated in the Rugby Europe Championship. Moreover, in the direct matches, Romania has not won since 2017, when they won, in Bucharest, 8 to 7. (LS)