World Cup player profiles: Romania

Date published: September 11 2015

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Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we take a look at all of the players set to feature in England. Next up, Romania.

Forwards: Paulica Ion, Mihaita Lazar, Andrei Ursache, Alexandru Tarus, Horatiu Pungea, Andrei Radoi, Otar Turashvili, Eugen Capatana, Valentin Popirlan, Johannes Van Heerden, Marius Antonescu, Valentin Ursache, Mihai Macovei, Viorel Lucaci, Stelian Burcea, Ovidiu Tonita, Daniel Carpo.

Backs: Florin Surugiu, Valentin Calafeteanu, Tudorel Bratu, Danut Dumbrava, Michael Wiringi, Paula Kinikilau, Florin Vlaicu, Csaba Gal, Adrian Apostol, Ionut Botezatu, Florin Ionita, Madalin Lemnaru, Catalin Fercu, Sabin Stratila.


MARIUS ANTONESCU

 Lock    1.93m    93kg    09.08.1992

Now playing for Tarbes in Pro D2, Antonescu is one of the new young locks making their way in the Romanian national team. He became a rugby player in Focsani and worked his way up first at Dinamo Bucuresti and afterwards at the French club. The 2014/15 season was a busy one for Antonescu as he played for Tarbes in ten games and made his debut in the national team in the game against Emerging Ireland in last year's Nations Cup. Antonescu played for the Sevens national team both in 2013 and 2014 and is looking forward to his first World Cup experience.


ADRIAN APOSTOL

 Wing    1.85m    88kg    11.03.1990

Born in Constanta, he is a fast winger who has played for Romania's junior team, the Sevens national side and finally the senior team. Apostol made his debut for the Bucharest Wolves in 2010 in the Challenge Cup, and only one year later he managed to score three tries against Crociati Parma in the same competition. His debut for the Romanian senior team came in 2011 and he played at that World Cup and currently has 17 caps for the Oaks.


IONUT BOTEZATU

 Fullback/Wing     1.78m    78kg    05.05.1987

The winger called "the rocket" for his very fast performances that usually end with tries has registered a lot of good results with Romania. He is part of the team in Baia Mare and has won four national titles and two Romanian Cups. Botezatu made his debut for both the Bucharest Wolves and the Oaks in 2009. For the Wolves he played 20 games and for Romania he already has 26 caps and 15 points. This will be his first World Cup.


TUDOREL BRATU

 Scrum-half    1.72m    71kg    23.04.1991

Bratu is a young scrum-half who comes from Dinamo Bucharest and after good games in the Romanian competitions was selected by Lynn Howells to go to the Rugby World Cup. Playing for Dinamo Bucharest as a senior, Bratu had a promising career since his early years as a junior. Although he's not yet had the chance to play for the Oaks, he may be a surprise at the World Cup, as he convinced Lynn Howells that he deserves a squad place.


STELIAN BURCEA

 Back-row    1.93m    102kg    07.10.1983

The back-row currently plays for Timisoara Saracens but won three national titles at Dinamo Bucharest. He moved to the western team five years ago and has been leading as captain. He first played for the Oaks in 2006 in a match against France and four years later lifted the Nations Cup. Burcea has 51 caps and four tries for the Oaks, contributing to this year's Nations Cup win. The 2015 World Cup will be his second global event.


VALENTIN CALAFETEANU

 Scrum-half    1.82m    82kg    25.01.1985

Calafeteanu is one of the most experienced players in the Romanian squad, playing as a scrum-half or fly-half. His transition to senior rugby came at Dinamo Bucharest and after three national titles between 2004-2010 he moved to Arad and then Timisoara. Calafeteanu became a national champion in 2011 and the top point scorer in the domestic competition (196). Going into a third RWC, he has over 70 caps since his 2004 debut.


MARIAN CAPATANA

 Hooker    1.80m    105kg    18.06.1986

Capatana started at Timisoara after trying a few other sports like boxing and wrestling. He was part of the Timisoara team since the beginning of their ascendancy, winning two Romanian Cups and two national titles in recent years. His good showings were noticed by the Oaks coaches and he was called to be part of the squad for the first time in 2012. This year's Rugby World Cup will be his first experience at the tournament.


DANIEL CARPO

 Back-row    1.88m    106kg    26.11.1984

A very important forward for the Romanian team, Carpo is a strong number eight, having 50 caps for the Oaks and 30 in European club competition.  He was born in Tulcea and started playing rugby in Constanta before transferring Timisoara and alongside his teammates added to his trophy count two national titles. He then moved to Bucharest to join CSM. Carpo made his Oaks debut in 2007 and this will be his second World Cup appearance.


DANUT DUMBRAVA

 Fullback/Fly-half    1.83m    80kg    06.08.1981

The Romanian fly-half is one of the most experienced players from the squad having already participated in three Rugby World Cups. Dumbrava can play either as full-back or as a number ten. He has won three national titles and four Romanian Cups with Steaua Bucharest, being part of the team for more than fifteen years. He made his debut for Romania's senior side back in 2002, winning 70 caps and scoring over 350 points so far.


CATALIAN FERCU

  Wing/Centre    1.80m    75kg    05.09.1986

Fercu has represented Romania for a decade since making his Test debut in 2005 at the tender age of 19. He went on to represent them at the 2007 Rugby World starting in three of their four pool matches. Injury sidelined Fercu for the 2011 global showpiece. Fercu started out playing for the Bucuresti Wolves during a nine-year stint, producing staggering performances, which eventually caught the attention of Saracens. The experienced back joined Saracens for their 2014 Aviva Premiership season and has since been a regular campaigner.


CSABA GAL

  Centre    1.83m    90kg    07.03.1985

Gal has represented Romania for a decade since making his Test debut in 2005. The Romanian stalwart went on to represent Romania at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. The experienced midfielder has racked up over 80 caps for Romania and is the most experience campaigner in the team. Like most he has been based in Romania since the start of his career in 2005, representing Steaua Bucuresti, Baia Mare and Bucuresti Wolves. He joined U Cluj in 2015 for their Romanian SuperLiga season.


FLORIN IONITA

 Centre    1.96m    96kg    05.04.199

Bucharest-born Ionita played for Steaua Bucharest since the beginning of his rugby career. He has two bronze medals obtained in the 2006 and 2007 seasons in the national championship and a national title, in 2009, at junior level. At senior level he won the Romanian Cup in 2009. In 2012, Ionita made his debut for the Bucharest Wolves and went on to debut for the Oaks in 2013. With 18 caps, this will be his first World Cup.


PAULICA ION

 Prop     1.78m    119kg    10.01.1983

A veteran prop of the European game, Ion has enjoyed playing stints at Bath, London Irish, London Welsh and Perpignan while he has racked up 70 international caps for Romania (pre-tournament). He played one match at the 2003 World Cup, two in 2007 and four at the 2011 event. Ion is viewed by many of his coaches as being a good scrummager, which is not surprising in a Romanian team that prides itself on the set-piece.


PAULA KINIKILAU

 Centre    1.85m    105kg    30.08.1986

One of the most inventive centres in the Romanian SuperLiga, Kinikinilau proved himself to be one of the most valuable players for Timisoara Saracens. Born in Tonga, he played for most of his career in New Zealand before coming to Romania in 2011 to play for Steaua Bucharest. The excting centre debuted for the Oaks at their last Test before the Rugby World Cup, against Tonga. This will be his first Rugby World Cup trip.


MIHAITA LAZAR

 Prop    1.85m    94kg    03.11.1986

Lazar has developed a reputation of being solid in the set-piece and physical around the field, resulting in him playing over 70 games for French club side Castres and knocking on the door of 50 international appearances for Romania, which he should go through during this Rugby World Cup. Lazar made his debut for Romania in 2008 against Czech Republic and went on to feature in three matches at the 2011 World Cup.


MADALIN LEMNARU

 Wing      1.89m    95kg    26.03.1989

Lemnaru is one of many Romanian-based players within the team. The speedster started out playing for Bucuresti Oaks in 2008 on a three-year stint, before joining his current club, Bucuresti Wolves in 2012. Lemnaru made his Test bow for Romania in 2009 and went on to represent them at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, starting in three of their four pool matches.


VIOREL LUCACI

 Flanker     1.89m    98kg    30.03.1986

Lucaci represented Romania at youth level before making his debut for Romanian club, CSA Steaua Bucuresti in 2001. Lucaci's loyal devotion to the club paid off when he made his Test debut in 2009. The Romanian stalwart missed out on selection for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, however he made the cut this time around. He has 41 caps for his country.


MIHAI MACOVEI

 Lock/Flank    1.95m    94kg    29.10.1986

Macovei broke onto the scene in 2005 when he represented Romanian club, Steaua Bucuresti. Impressive performances at the club saw him make his Test bow a year later. The Romanian stalwart missed out on selection for the 2007 Rugby World Cup but made the cut for the 2011 global showpiece, starting in three of their four pool matches. Macovei had a short spell playing for French outfit, Massy from 2014 making 16 appearances and scoring three tries. He joined his current club, Colomiers in 2015. He became the captain of the Oaks in 2012 and played 30 games as one. He now has 63 caps and is looking forward to his second Rugby World Cup.


VALENTIN POPIRLAN

 Lock    1.96m    104kg    12.06.1987

28-year-old Popirlan made his Test bow in 2007, coming on as a replacement against Namibia. He played for his country in the 2011 Rugby World Cup and enjoyed four appearances, three of them were as a substitute. The lock could hit 50 caps for Romania should he play in all of their pool fixtures this year and with his ability to cover flanker, the Timisoara Saracens player is a key part of this Romanian squad.


HORATIU PUNGEA

 Prop    1.88m    109kg    18.02.1986

Made his international debut in November 2012 against Japan and has gone on to become a regular in the squad. He began his club career at Steaua Bucuresti and went on to play for the Scarlets in Wales before Lyon and then Oyonnax in France. A strong yet mobile front-row. He was part of the Romanian team in their 2013 victory in the Nations Cup and is now excited to take part in his first Rugby World Cup.


ANDREI RADOI

  Hooker    1.85m    107kg    21.04.1987

An experienced hooker at international level who is still very much in his prime, aged 28. Made his Romanian debut against Czech Republic in 2008 and has spent the majority of his club career in his home country, barring a one-year stint at Ealing Trailfinders in England. He has 22 caps for the Bucharest Wolves and 44 for Romania, winning the Nations Cup Trophy three times (2012, 2013 and 2015).


SABIN STRATILA

 Full-back    1.88m    80kg    27.03.1995

The youthful Stratila currently plays for Romanian club, Bucharest Wolves. Brilliant performances at the club earned him his Test bow for Romania in 2015. Safe under the high ball and elusive on attack, Stratila is an exciting prospect for the future. The young player's potential was shown by his selection for his Rugby World Cup and he hopes for many more to come.


FLORIN SURUGIU

 Scrum-half     1.70m    71kg    10.12.1984

Surugiu has been in Romania since the start of his career, representing Steaua Bucuresti and CSM Bucuresti before joining his current club, Bucuresti Wolves in 2013. The nippy scrum-half made his Test bow in 2008 and went on to represent Romania at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, starting in two of their four pool matches. The Romanian stalwart's quick ball distribution from the base of the ruck will be invaluable for them at this year's global showpiece. He has over 50 caps for his country.


ALEXANDRU TARUS

 Prop    1.80m    106kg    09.05.1989

The youngest prop in the Romanian squad, the 26-year-old is a relative unknown on the international circuit with just six caps to his name. He plays for Timisoara and is the only prop in the squad not to be based in France. As an U20 he won the Junior World Trophy in 2009. He made his debut for the Oaks and for the Bucharest Wolves in 2013. The first game that he took part in for Romania was against Argentina Jaguars for the Nations Cup, a competition that he won alongside his team-mates. This will be his first Rugby World Cup.


OVIDIU TONITA

 Back-row    1.95m    105kg    06.08.1980

Romanian stalwart Tonita travelled to the 1999 RWC but only made his Test bow in 2000, going on to represent them at the 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups. The experienced back-row has spent the majority of his career playing in France for FC Grenoble, Biarritz Olympique and US Carcassonne. In 2004 he joined USA Perpignan and was standout performer for them during his eight-year stint, making 160 appearances and scoring 15 tries. He joined his current club, Pays d'Aix for their 2014/15 Pro D2 season.


OTAR TURASHVILI

 Hooker/Prop    1.83m    103kg    14.07.1986

The Georgian-born hooker who made his international debut against Uruguay in 2012, Turashvili also has the capability of playing at prop which is an extra string to his bow. He has played most of his club career at Bucuresti Wolves but this season moved to Colomiers in France. Playing for the Wolves he enjoyed games in the European Rugby Challenge Cup but is likely to play second fiddle to Andrei Radoi at the Rugby World Cup.


ANDREI URSACHE

 Prop     1.80m    117kg    10.05.1984

Made his debut in 2012 against Portugal and has since developed into a hard-hitting, tough scrummaging prop forward. Ursache is a player that loves the physical and has shown that not only in the tight exchanges but also wider out in the defensive line, demonstrating his reliability and confidence in this area. He plays his club rugby in France for US Carcassonne and has also had a month's trial at Cardiff Blues.


VALENTIN URSACHE

 Flanker    1.88m    100kg    12.08.1985

Ursache started out playing for Romanian club, Steaua Bucuresti, which resulted in his Test debut in 2004. The Romanian stalwart went on to represent Romania at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cup and was a regular campaigner at both tournaments. Ursache joined French club, Pays d'Aix in 2010 on a two-year stint, making 65 appearances and scoring five tries. The experienced loose forward joined his current club Oyonnax for their 2013 Top 14 season. He has 60 caps for his country.


JOHANNES VAN HEERDEN

 Lock/Flanker    1.96m    118kg    12.09.1986

South African-born van Heerden can cover both the second and back-row but is predominantly viewed as a loose forward. The 28-year-old who plays for the Baia Mare club, impressed in the Romania's U23 match against England Counties earlier this year. He used to play for the Pumas and Griffons in the Currie Cup.


FLORIN VLAICU

 Wing     1.86m     92kg    26.07.1986

Romanian stalwart Florin Vlaicu has been based in Romania since the start of his career in 2005, representing CSA Steaua Bucuresti, Bucuresti Wolves, Farul Constanta and his current team CSM Bucuresti. Vlaicu made his Test debut in 2006 and went on to represent Romania at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups. The speedster's ability to break the defensive line will be invaluable for them at this year's global showpiece.


MICHAEL WIRINGI

 Fly-half    1.78m    88kg    01.08.1985

Wiringi currently plies his trade for Romanian club, CSM Baia Mare in the Romanian Rugby Championship. The New Zealand-born player, who moved to Romania aged five, made his Test bow for the Oaks in 2015. An alternative to Danut Dumbrava, Wiringi is a fly-half who brings attacking qualities to the squad.

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