-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Srancu-

We should accept that even the bravest people die:
Their heroic blood colors the sky
And makes even the sun cry.

I will tell you the story of a monument unique in the world,
placed in the Steaua sportive complex of the Romanian army,
in a Bucharestian district named Ghencea, after an aristocrat
who had had here more proprieties in the Phanariot era (1716-1821).

That district begins with an impressive church (with golden sun crosses),
dedicated to the Holy Trinity,
which was founded in the 1820s and re-built later.

After many blocks of flats made by the communist regime
in the 1960s and the 1970s,
another important place appears:
the Ghencea military cemetery (with an entrance also adorned by a sun cross).

Among those who are buried here,
Dr. Harald Alexandrescu (1945-2005) is individualized
through his prodigious activity in popularizing astronomy
as the coordinator of the Bucharest Municipal Observatory (1884-2005).
A veritable officer of the stars!

Then the Ghencea Boulevard continues
toward the sportive park.

In 2013 I decided that 7 July will be a rugby day,
and I began that morning watching the sunrise
and remembering a special context.

Thus, in the 19th century,
the British soldiers began to play rugby for divertisment
all over the world where they had missions.

In 1917,
in the memory of the terrible Battle of the Somme during World War I,
the troops of Entente organized a rugby military tournament in Paris,
won by New Zealand (in competition with Wales, England, Ireland and France).

In 1919, soon after World War I,
even on the Twickenham Stadium in London,
another international military tournament was organized (King’s Cup),
this time only with teams of the victorious British Empire:
New Zealand (winner again), United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and Canada.

The French reply came in the same year:
France organized a rugby tournament at the Interallied Games in Paris,
defeating Romania (48-5) and USA.

In 1927
French Army visited for the first time Romania,
defeating the team of Romanian Army (38-6).

In 1947 the club of Romanian army was founded in Bucharest
(later it was named Steaua “The Star”)
with a rugby section which will become multiple national champion.

In the 1970s and the 1980s,
a yearly series of matches began between Steaua and French Army,
each team usually winning at home,
with a small superiority for the French players.

At the same time, in the 1980s,
another yearly series began, Steaua - Soviet Army,
dominated by Romanians.

In December 1989,
during the days of the Romanian Anticommunist Revolution,
two officers of Romanian army, former legendary rugby players,
multiple internationals for the golden team of Romania and victorious over France,
Radu Durbac and Florica Murariu,
were killed in the line of duty by communist terrorists
(along with a few other younger rugby players).

In their memory,
the Romanian authorities made a monument.

Unfortunately, after that
the traditional annual match between the teams of Romanian Army and French Army
was annulated.

But things did not stop here.

Thus, in the spring of 1990
the Capital of Romania hosted a special match,
Bucharest (in fact, the national team) - British Police 38-10,
and in 2006 France organized an international military championship,
in which Steaua Bucharest realized
12-13 with French Army and 22-5 over Irish Army in preliminaries,
and won the final, 30-19 over French Army.

In 2010 the Steaua club organized in Bucharest
the first edition of the Revolution Heroes Memorial,
also for the remembrance of Durbac and Murariu,
with the following final:
Steaua - Yenisey Krasnoiarsk (the vice-champion of Russia) 21-0.

The second edition, in the summer of 2011, of the memorial tournament
was probably the strongest rugby military championship after 1920:
Steaua won French Army (37-12) in the semifinals
and British Army (19-15) in the final,
becoming, unofficially, the best military team in the Northern Hemisphere.

Only two months after,
parallelly to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand,
the same selected team of British Army
won the first International Defence Rugby World Cup in history,
62-17 over Australian Army in the final.

The third edition of the memorial, in 2012,
was contested only by Romanian juniors,
but an interesting international (military rugby) compensation
existed in the same year:

Romania was chosen by the team of
Adjutant General’s Corps Rugby Union Football Club,
1st Battalion of Irish Guard
(coming also from the world of “rugby classics”),
for their 20 year anniversary tournament,
in which the guests played against three multiple Romanian champions:
Dinamo Bucharest (the club of Romanian Police,
winner of the European Champions Cup in 1967),
Grivita Rosie Bucharest (winner of the European Champions Cup in 1964,
now an amateur team playing in the 3rd Romanian league),
and Farul Constanta (runner up of the World Club Championship in 1986,
now a multinational team).

Dinamo - Irish Guard 76-5,
Grivita - Irish Guard 22-25,
Farul - Irish Guard 42-7.

On the afternoon of 7 August 2013
I went to the Steaua rugby stadium
for the finals of a new international edition of the memorial tournament,
and I stopped near the Rugby Heroes Monument
for a few moments of meditation,
in which I thought that in fact Radu Durbac and Florica Murariu
were double heroes, as sport men and as citizens.

The final for the 3rd place was a match
for rugby supremacy in Oriental Latinity
contested by Romania
(the 2nd of 6 teams in the European Nations Cup First Division,
represented now by the selected national team under 23 years)
and Moldova
(the 2nd team in the European Nations Cup Second Division,
represented now by the A team - only players from the national championship)
under interesting formations of clouds.
The result, 92-0 for Romania Youth,
did not reflect Moldova’s courageous reply.

The great final was,
just like 94 years ago at the Interallied Games,
a match for rugby supremacy (at the military level) in Continental Europe.
This time,
Romanian Army (Steaua Bucharest) defeated French Army,
under a dramatic sunset seeming to mean
celestial poetry above
and human heroism below.


© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)