Letter from Bucharest – Day One at the Sevens
22 September 2013
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After the excesses of the previous night we struggled out of bed for breakfast then outside to get a taxi to the stadium. I had looked at travel forums before we left and they were full of warnings about unscrupulous taxi drivers, and people we met here also told us to be wary. The tariff is printed on the door of taxis and we were told to be sure we use those that charge 1.39 Lei (about 28p) per kilometre. There are other cars that have dual pricing and you could end up paying three or four times that.
So far we have been lucky enough to find the right kind of taxi and the fare to the stadium, about a 20 minute ride, was less than three pounds. In fact, every taxi ride we have have taken so far has cost far less than the equivalent bus journey back in the UK.
I have been impressed by the standard of English spoken by almost everybody. I expected it from the hotel staff but taxi drivers, bartenders, waitresses and security men were all more than capable of making themselves understood. Romania isn’t yet thought of as a tourist destination by most countries in Western Europe but I don’t think that it will be long until it is.
The ‘Stadionul de Rugby Arcul de Triumf’ is a rugby-only stadium with a seating capacity of around 5000. It has floodlights and two practice pitches, one of them with artificial turf and the headquarters of the Romanian Rugby Union is next door. I understand that the land is owned by a rugby enthusiast and when the government was looking for a new base for the Olympic committee, he offered them space for a building just by the stadium complex so securing the future of the facility.
The tournament is the final leg of the FIRA Sevens Grand Prix which started a couple of years ago, but this season there are only two events;this one and another at Lyon in France a few months ago. 12 teams are taking part and England are clear favourites but they didn’t quite have it all their own way on day one. The first two matches were easy enough with comfortable wins against Italy (19-0) and Wales (40-7), but when they took on Romania the disappointingly sparse crowd came to life to get behind their side. The home team opened the scoring before England leveled at 7-7 just before half-time. The second half was a tight affair but England’s defence was very strong and the inevitable Romanian mistake came allowing England a try and a 14-7 win.
The final game was against Portugal who again were the first to score and led 14-12 in the second half, but England retained their composure to score two late tries and book their place in the Cup semi-final with a 26-14 victory.
I’m about to leave for the stadium and day two where England have their final pool game against Georgia before the knockout stages. Spain look to be a strong side so I suspect England will have to play them at some stage. I will be posting scores on Twitter and Facebook.
As usual I have taken plenty of pictures and some videos but uploading them had proved to be problematic, so they will have to wait until my return to the UK.