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

I took these pictures in 28 October 2013,
soon after I had found that the ROMEXPO building in Bucharest,
with a rugby half ball cupola,
was indeed projected by a former Romanian rugby international in the 1930s,
named Ascanio Damian.

Thus, this building appears as the most visible Bucharestian monument
inspired by the rugby game
and transforms the Romanian Capital
into a privileged city from this point of view.

That’s why I chose this vision adorned by sunsets
as the leitmotif of this project right before
the International Rugby Board Autumn Internationals 2013,
where, for the first time,
Romania was included as host for three matches.

So… I took another series of pictures on 7 November 2013,
two days before the first match.

Then I went to the stadium in 9 November,
guided from the Triumph Arch by the Moon,
who probably didn’t feel too good among the reflectors.

The first adversary was Tonga,
one of the rugby nations from the Pacific Ocean
(the 11th place in the IRB ranking, so a few positions over Romania),
a team that had obtained in the past victories against
Australia and New Zealand Maori
and had amazed the world through some of its successes in the last years:
60-26 over World XV in 2008,
19-14 over France in 2011,
21-15 over Scotland in 2012.

The prelude of this match included an intense cultural moment:
the Sea Eagles performed their war dance,
Sipi Tau
(“Ocean I drink, fire I dine,
To death or victory my will is fine.” -
English translation by Sione Ngahe),
while they were awaited by two followers
of the free warriors of Stefan cel Mare “the Great”
(the winner of the armies of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqurer of Constantinople
in the 1470s),
who performed old signals of fight through long traditional horns.

The match was admirable
and Romania obtained a superb victory, 19-18,
transforming a penalty in the last but one phase!

In the next week I was eager to see the next stage
and I admired sunsets over the ROMEXPO building and the Agriculture Institute,
and the moonrise right over the stadium.

In 16 November I went again to the stadium,
this time following the sunset through the Herastrau Park.

In fact, it was an evening with two matches Romania-Canada,
the first of them at the level of juniors, and here I have to tell that
the Romanian national teams of juniors have an interesting history.

They participated at all the editions of the yearly FIRA Tournament
(inaugurated in 1969 as a competition for Continental Europe and North Africa),
winning two of them
(1972 and 1973, when, at Bucharest, Romania defeated France),
and obtaining three places 2 (1974, 1975 and 1976)
and four places 3 (1969, 1971, 1985 and 1986).

Then the great powers from out of Continental Europe
began to enrich the participations:
Argentina (since 1987), South Africa (since 1994), Wales and Scotland (since 1995),
so that the 1995 edition at Bucharest was
the veritable beginning of the world championship,
Romania obtaining the 5th place
(although it didn’t lose any match, winning Wales and Scotland,
but fatally obtaining a score draw with France).

But in 1996 in Italy,
Romania obtained the 3rd place (winning Italy and Scotland),
followed by France and South Africa!

Ireland (since 1997), England (since 1999),
New Zealand (since 1999) and Australia (since 2000)
became also part of this tournament, so that since 2002
IRB appeared as co-patron of the World Junior Championship.

In this new era Romania realized the best performance
obtaining the 7th place in 2005 in South Africa
(defeating Japan and Argentina).

Since 2008 the tournament has been transformed into
IRB World Junior Rugby Championship (level 1)
and IRB World Junior Rugby Trophy (level 2).
Romania juniors had good results at the first editions of JWRT:
-4th place in 2008 (after a superb victory in a preparatory match,
3-0 over the first team of Yenisey Krasnoyarsk,
runner up in the Russian championship);
-1st place (winning the USA in the final) in 2009
(following the 4th place in the same year
at the new European Championship, created in 2004,
where they defeated Italy and came after France, England and Ireland);
-4th place in 2010.

Then they lost their place in JWRT,
so that now three matches against Canada juniors (runner up of the JWRT in 2013)
came to re-establish the inter-continental contacts.
Since the results of the first two junior matches had been
Romania-Canada 20-7 in 10 November
and Romania-Canada 20-22 in 13 November,
the third match,
in the opening of the senior match,
appeared as decisive for a general winner.

And the Romanian juniors obtained a beautiful victory, 21-14,
in the chords of the Sun, the Moon and the planet Venus.
Just like in the Romanian coat of arms,
which includes these three heavenly bodies!

After that, the senior match.
Canada, a cultural and economic superpower,
current rugby champion of North America,
with a record including victories over
France, Wales, Scotland, Argentina, England XV
and a qualification in the quarter finals of World Cup 1991
(when it defeated even Romania after a dramatic match),
was favourite and dominated the second round,
but Romania, more pragmatic,
obtained the victory, 21-20,
through a penalty kick transformed in the last second!

In 18 November, watching again the sunset over the ROMEXPO,
I saw a sunspot and this gave me a poetic feeling.

Then the sky became cloudy before and during the last match,
with Fiji,
the best among the Pacific islanders,
with a record including two qualifications in the quarter finals of the World Cup
(1987, when they eliminated Argentina,
and 2007, when they eliminated Wales),
victories over Australia, New Zealand Maori and Scotland,
and three sensational successes over invitational superteams:
Barbarians (29-9 in 1970),
British Lions (25-21 in 1977)
and Classic All Blacks (33-14 in 2013).

The ritual of the beginning was the same impressive
like in the match with Tonga:
the guests performed their war dance,
(“My strength can reach the crushing of the waves.” -
Ratu Manoa Rasingate’s variant),
Stefan cel Mare’s free warriors were on duty, too,
but this time the Romanians tried an open, offensive, spectacular and risky game
(unfortunately, the referee didn’t validate for them a perfect try
which would have changed the result),
and… lost the match, 7-29!

In 29 November
I meditated on the extraordinary experience to see
two teams of Pacific islanders and the team of a Pacific-Atlantic superpower
(what a strong cultural emotion!),
and I admired another sunset over the ROMEXPO
and Venus over the Triumph Arch.

Then, in the beginning of December 2013,
I thought to prolong that emotion with other rugby match
in which Bucharest Wolves (the selected team of the Romanian championship)
played a former winner of Heineken Champions Cup,
Brive from TOP14 (the French Championship),
in the AMLIN Challenge Cup
(as we all know, France has territories in the Pacific
and many southern players in its national competitions).

I prepared that match with another sunset over the ROMEXPO,
a sunrise in the Youth Park, a walk on the “voievodes” alley,
and the road near the Triumph Arch
and the Casin Church (nicknamed “the church of Romanian rugby”).

And in 7 December 2013
it was the match with the most spectacular participation of the sky
I ever saw:
the Sun, the Moon and Venus seemed to be part of this game,
dramatically won by the French team (18-13)!

Then, in the next days,
I admired the evolution of the Moon,
and another sunset over the ROMEXPO,
spectacles which made me remember a
Romanian poet, rugby player and rugby coach,
Tudor George (1926-1992),
who dedicated many of his verses to the rugby game.

So I decided to end this project with a poem by this author
in combination with other sunset series (16 December 2013) over the ROMEXPO.

-by Tudor George-

The heraldic of these supple bars
with a fantastic H
-steps, staircase in the sky-
I dedicate to you,
farseeing Homer,
because you stepped
on the great questions.

And keep his stair
that I hope,
brave Hercules!
I dedicate to you the rugby celebrations,
under your shield
tackled on distances,
with your H,
inscribed by a Gulliver!

like an organist on a desk,
will I step in the sacred arena
to celebrate
-as a Great Referee-
in our temple
the Sun from the centre?

I austerely put in a balance the arms
to the Gate of Hercules
and Homer!

-(English translation from the Romanian by Andrei Dorian Gheorghe)-

Thus, although Romania (still remaining in the rugby group of 18 nations
of high performance)
has fallen among the tier 2 rugby nations,
it will always remain a tier 1 nation in rugby art
due to the works of Ascanio Damian and Tudor George.


© 2015 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)