Howells pep-talk inspired Romania’s comeback

Date published: October 7 2015

Romania head coach Lynn Howells revealed that his half-time pep-talk against Canada on Tuesday helped his side to stage the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history.

Trailing 15-0 after 52 minutes of their Pool D clash in Leicester, the Oaks scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to clinch a 17-15 victory over the Canucks.

Captain and number eight Mihai Macovei led the fightback with two-well taken tries. The late winning penalty from Florin Vlaicu, keeps Romania's dream of securing automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan alive while Canada return home winless.

No team has ever overcome such a huge deficit at a Rugby World Cup and when asked what he told his charges when they were trailing 8-0 at half-time, Howells said: “Pull your socks up.

“We came in with a gameplan, we knew what we had to do against Canada. 

"We had to stop the quick ball and I think we became more effective at that in the second half.

“Also, I think Canada made more mistakes and it allowed us to get the scrum game going, the driving game going. 

"That really changed the game.”

Despite another try from Canada wing Jeff Hassler, shortly after the restart, Howells still believed his team could secure an unlikely win.

“We said that if we stayed within 14 points going into the last 20 minutes, we knew we would have a chance to start to play the way we wanted to play," he added.

“I think you saw that. Canada’s wide game started to fall apart in the last 20 (minutes) and it gave us an opportunity to play the way Romania wanted to play and we knew that would happen so, no, I never gave up.”

Canada were competitive in all four matches at the global showpiece but head home with losses to Romania, Ireland, Italy and France.

Their coach Kieran Crowley said despite dominating the opening half, they didn't execute what they set out to do after the interval.

“We talked about what we wanted to do at half-time," he said.

"It must have been a terrible speech.

“The big thing we talked about the game was that we knew their strength and their driving maul. We were just not good enough in the final plays.

“If you take out the last 35 minutes of this game it has probably been a pretty good World Cup for us.”