By Chris Thau in Romania
Legacy events have become part and parcel of all IRB tournaments, especially in Tier 2 and 3 countries, and the 8th IRB Nations Cup in Romania is no exception.
After the first round of matches, several players from the four participating countries have been the guests of Bucharest youngsters at the "Arcul de Triumf" stadium, and a good time was had by all.
"Legacy is a generic term for these events, but they are all in fact promotional occasions which help us give the rugby message meaning and significantly, status," observed tournament manager Lucian Lorin, the organiser of the gathering.
“Anything that helps us lift the profile of the game among the young participants and their families is good for us. It means more players, more spectators, and more opportunities. This was the first "legacy" event, so to speak, with about 50-60 kids after the first round of matches and we plan a second after round two on Thursday.”
The accent is firmly on youth rugby in Romania at the moment, as the Nations Cup coincides with the final tournaments of various age group competitions. The Romanian Rugby Federation is engaged in a genuine effort to not only increase numbers of participants at grass roots level, but also to upgrade the quality of participation, in terms of skill levels, athleticism, comprehension and rugby culture.
The season is drawing to a close for the U10s, U12s, U14s, U16s, U17s, U18s and U19s age groups. A formidable fifteen from Gura Humorului won the U19 title, Steaua Bucharest grabbed the U17s, Tomitanii Constanta are the new U16s champions after they narrowly defeated Birlad in a match between two of the traditional powerhouses of Romanian rugby that was full of sportsmanship, skill levels and the breathtaking pace, while the U18s are still in action this week, with the Pantelimon and Focsani clubs making emphatic statements about their intentions with some strong performances in the opening matches. The final of the eight-team event is on Saturday.
Commenting on last Sunday’s thrilling U16 final, on-looking IRB High Performance consultant, Ritchie Dixon, was full of praise for both coaches, Cristian Cojocaru of Constanta and Ciprian Popa of Birlad. He said: "The quality and the skill levels of the players on display bodes well for the future of rugby in Romania.”
The third "Legacy" event – the U18s trophy presentation ceremony - will take place on Sunday in between the final matches of the Nations Cup, featuring Russia v Argentina Jaguars and Romania v Emerging Italy.