In danger of dying, a symbolic game for European Romania

You may be wondering why rugby has a problem when the small stadium next to the Arc de Triomphe becomes a real gem. But this is where the problem lies – Romanian rugby can be given one hand and taken two.

There is controversy. That land has belonged to the Rugby Federation for more than a century, since 1913, to be precise.

With Bucharest appointed as the host of three matches of the European Football Championship, which was postponed from 2020 to 2021 due to the epidemic, the Arc de Triomphe Stadium also entered renovation work, as well as two football fields.

So, the gospel will become an issue because now, the head of the modernization project, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will be the owner of the site, instead of the Rugby Federation.

Legal issues are complex and we will not dwell on them. But it is certain that Romanian rugby fans have been worried for some time, more and more.

The reason: The stadium, one of the most beautiful in Bucharest, is no longer owned by rugby and, following MDS’s pastoral position, may be confiscated by football – most likely for the benefit of the team sponsored by landlord Gigi Beckley.

In this context, the Romanian rugby fan club, “Club 16 – Horia Ungur”, recently released a note to Minister Edward Novak:

“We emphasize the importance of this arena to the community (…), be it in Bucharest or in the country. On competitive days it becomes a real social bond for families, husbands, wives, grandparents, children, they come to this arena together and play fair (. .) Attend a rich sports show.

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Without a stadium, Romanian rugby would already be collapsing and irreversibly collapsing, while its rivals (Georgia, Spain, Russia) would benefit from large public investments in infrastructure. The stadium is the mouthpiece of rugby that Rugby has been waiting for for 40 years, “the memorandum said.

On Wednesday, the “Club 16-Horia Ungur” delegation met with Minister Edward Novak and his associates. The position of the authorities is that the stadium will be under the management of MDS, preferably with rugby.

But to what extent this priority will be maintained over time and will not be – so to speak – forgotten along the way, is hard to say. This requires a clear commitment from the Ministry to this game.

When he took office, Minister Edward Novak promised to prioritize sports with real opportunities at the Olympic medals – which is logical and prudent.

Rugby, on the other hand, is not a sport that brings medals – its philosophy is completely different. Nevertheless, for decades, the Romanian team has been one of the top 20 rugby nations in the world, in fact, the best rated men’s team sport in Romania.

But it’s not just that, it’s part of Romania’s European heritage.

The only country in this part of Europe says nothing in this game. It is the result of our close historical ties with France and Great Britain. The Oval Balloon was brought to Romania by young people who studied in Paris and London and built modern Romania.

Shortly after its establishment, the communist regime sought to eliminate rugby, which was considered too “capitalist”. But he quickly gave up because, in the Middle Ages, these virtuous men were rooted in working class circles – such as teams from Grivina Bucharest or Jiu Valley.

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The climax would be Romania’s iconic rugby subjugation to a historic party under the PNL – led government, which considers Romania to be the heir apparent of those who took it out of the East and brought it to Europe.

Column “Eurochronica” with Ovidu Nahoi every day, Monday to Friday, 8.45am, Sunday, 15.00pm, RFI in Romania only

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