Another World Cup-bound nation loses their coach on the eve of 2023
Not much more than a week after England and Wales parted ways with Eddie Jones and Wayne Pivac, another Test nation bound for the 2023 Rugby World Cup has lost their coach.
Andy Robinson, head honcho of rising European minnows Romania, has resigned from his post following a run of underwhelming performances less than a year out from France 2023.
Romania originally finished third in the European qualifiers for next year’s tournament, dropping matches to Georgia, Spain, Portugal and Russia; however, the Oaks were bumped up a position after Spain were docked points for fielding an ineligible player in two thumpings of the Netherlands, handing them automatic qualification for the World Cup.
Robinson – who amassed a handful of appearances for England as a player and then went on to coach both the England and Scotland Test sides – took over as Romania’s head coach following the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The Oaks managed just one win from their four matches played against local European opposition in 2020 and while the following season showed signs of improvement, with victories recorded against Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Uruguay and Tonga, as well as a relatively narrow 24-17 defeat suffered at the hands of Argentina, Robinson’s men took a backwards step in 2022.
Wins over Russia and Portugal in the Rugby Europe Championship were celeberated, as well as an away victory over Uruguay in July, but losses to Uruguay, Italy and Samoa in the latter half of the season were disappointing, while the side were below their best in a seven-point win over Chile. Romania’s two primary rivals in Europe, Spain and Georgia, also both had the wood over the Oaks earlier in the season.
Player availability issues undoubtedly hampered Romania’s ability to build throughout the year – but the other tier-two nations face similar challenges. Rumours of friction between Robinson and some senior players in the Oaks squad could also have contributed to the less-than-ideal results ahead of next year’s flagship tournament.
“After a series of disappointing results in the last six months on and off the field, I have decided to step down as head coach of Romania,” said Robinson in a written statement. “I feel that I have taken the Romanian team as far as I could and that it is the right time for a Romanian coach to take over the team.
“I want to thank the players and staff for their hard work over the past three years and wish them all the best for the 2023 World Cup.”
As alluded to by Robinson, Romanian native Eugen Apjok will take the mantle as head coach, with David Ellis, Stephen Scott, Valentin Ursache, Mihaita Lazar, Viorel Lucaci and one-Test All Black Sosene Anesi providing assistance.
Robinson’s tenure comes to end with a 50 per cent win-record over this three years in charge. Apjok has just two months to embed himself as the new top dog, with Romania set to play Poland on February 4 in the opening round of the Rugby Europe Championship for 2023.
Romania are placed in Group B for next year’s World Cup, alongside South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Tonga.
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Gavin Hastings, was playing was he? 🤔Go to comments
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