Romanian rugby fans may well look back wistfully at the glorious days of the Ceausescu regime when the Oaks beat Wales, Scotland and France twice each, as well as running the All Blacks close in 1981. Probably not, though.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Romanian rugby has suffered and things don’t look like getting much easier against the dwarf tossing, bungee jumping, blonde fondling, headline grabbing White Orcs. However, there’s a few big lumps missing for tomorrow’s game as well as a skinny fella. The big lumps are Sheridan and Easter and the skinny fella is Lawes.
Dallaglio mused that Haskell could be the world’s best number 8 before the tournament got going (translation: he’s not as good as I was) but Easter is a leader and clever footballer. England will miss him. In the front row, Big Ted has freakish strength and the drop to Corbisiero is significant. Ted destroyed Australia in the last World Cup and the scrum is perhaps the only area where England get awarded more penalties than the opposition. Lawes is involved a lot for England, particularly in tackles and rucks. He is also a good lineout option. He is replaced by Paris fop, Tom Palmer, not a like for like. Expect to see a lot of ball thrown to Tom Croft.
Ben Youngs is the creative spark of this English team and will look to bring Tuilagi, Foden and Ashton into the game quickly. Romania have a new centre partnership of Dumitras and Cazan who have played at full back and wing in previous games so Tuilagi may have some space.
There’s only one winner in this but it could be like some England-Italy arm wrestles of recent years. Sadly, Tincu misses out and won’t get to smash heads with Thommo but the Oaks have a strong scrum and England aren’t that inspired. The bookies make this a 55 point game which looks a bit toppy, 45 might be closer the mark.