Florin Surugiu first got the idea when World Rugby released the dates for the tournament.
Ireland, at Wembley, on September 27: His girlfriend Alexandra’s birthday.
So, when yesterday’s game ended, the Romanian scrum-half made a beeline for his beloved and popped THE question. Alexandra, an accountant who goes to most of her new fiancee’s games, said yes and the happy couple will get married next year.
During a break in the rugby season, naturally.
“I told a couple of teammates and they said it was a good idea,” said Surugiu afterwards. Maybe some of the same teammates who pocketed selfies with Brian O’Driscoll before the game.
It isn’t hard to imagine Romania’s coach Lynn Howells privately grumbling at such sideshows, endearing though they were in front of a Rugby World Cup record crowd.
None of that is to impugn the effort of the Romanians who were being asked to face a second tier-one nation just four days after their opener against France, but it does put Ireland’s breezy start into its proper perspective.
“Japan showed that tier-two nations are getting better,” said Chris Henry. We wanted to be machine-like in the way we go about our games. It doesn’t matter who we are playing. We stick to our process and our game plan. There was plenty of nerves among the starting team today but we stuck to our game plan.
“The two people I felt were under the most pressure – Devin Toner and Tommy Bowe – I thought both of them were outstanding considering that pressure they must have felt. They have shown they are two quality players and they have given Joe some headaches for next week.”
Tadhg Furlong, who banked another 15 minutes in a fledgling Test career, sung a similar song. Everyone bar Robbie Henshaw has now played a part in the opening two games, the team has maximum points, is scoring tries and the competition for places is intense.
“You look what happened to Japan and South Africa,” said Paul O’Connell.
“Scotland-USA was a really tight game until half-time. We were very, very careful not to get ahead of ourselves in any of the games, to take it week by week. That’s what we’ve been doing for two years.
“We’re not going to deviate from that. We’ve come through these two games injury-free, I hope, and with the squad intact. That’s very good for us. We’ve done a lot of thing good these past two weeks that maybe we didn’t do in the previous two against Wales and England.
“The previous two weeks were stiffer challenges and I suppose it’s harder to do those things well, but I do think there has been an improvement and I hope we can bring it into the Italy game. Even today we did a lot of things really well but didn’t break them down.
“We need our carriers to be that little bit more aggressive, our ruck ball to be that bit quicker. ”
Joe Schmidt will no doubt agree. When the TV cameras switched to the Ireland coach seconds after the final whistle he could clearly be seen talking about the need for “a bit more focus”. Italy have been terrible so far, but they will be a step up.
Certainly if Sergio Parisse is fit again.
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