Timisoara Saracens continue on the road to the next season’s ER Challenge Cup



This season’s European trip continues for Timisoara Saracens with the first play-offs of January against Pool’s B runner up – RC Batumi, Georgia – after having qualified on top of Pool A of the European Rugby Continental Shield. 


The aim of the European Rugby Continental Shield organized by EPCR with the participation of the Italian Rugby Federation and Rugby Europe is to give the opportunity to both emerging and established clubs from different territories of Europe to earn their spot in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.


This season’s ER Continental Shield has seen Timisoara Saracens contesting so far against two clubs from Italy, one from Portugal and one from Georgia, on their way to hopefully qualify for the second time in their history to the ER Challenge Cup.


The first pool match of October 14th was narrowly won by Timisoara Saracens with 29 – 25 on home ground against Petrarca Rugby (Italy) after a thrilling match with points scored swiftly by both sides and the guests leading at half time by 10-16. Winger William Helu and scrum-half Henry Seniloli signed the Romanian tries, while fullback Luke Samoa added the penalty kick points and the conversions for the home team to secure the win.


For the second pool match Timisoara Saracens travelled to CDU Lisbon Rugby in Portugal on October 21st, where they didn’t waste the opportunity of returning with the bonus points after scoring no less than seven tries signed Stefano Hunt (fly-half), Andrei Radoi (hooker), Valentin Poparlan (lock), James Doyle (flanker), John Leiataua (centre), Florin Popa (centre) and Marian Sabau (hooker). Tevita Manumua converted five times out of seven to reinforce his team victory by 45-10.


The third pool match of December 9th saw Calvisano Rugby return to Romania for the second time after the 2015/16 Play-Offs when Timisoara Saracens won both legs against the Italians to secure their historical qualification to the 2016/17 ER Challenge Cup. It was going to be a tough encounter, as Calvisano Rugby came to avenge their losses of 2016, but despite the odds and the extreme weather, the game beginning on mild December rain and ending on heavy snow, Timisoara Saracens have kept it home and secured a third European victory by 15 to 13. The Italians lead at half time by 10 to 3, but Timisoara Saracens returned after the break to score two tries by prop Ionel Badiu and wing Fonovai Tangimana, while center Jack Umaga added the points of one conversion and a penalty kick.


Despite losing by 20-17 their last pool match in Georgia, against RC Batumi, Timisoara Saracens secured their less-than-7-points-difference bonus and the leader position within their pool, to qualify for the first play-offs of this seasons’ ER Continental Shield. According to the new format, the leaders of each pool will meet the runners-up of the opposite pool on a home and away basis, the winners to be decided on the aggregate scores of the two legs. The winning teams will then move up to the April/May play-offs where they will dispute against one another the spot available for the next season’s ER Challenge Cup.


Thus, Timisoara Saracens is scheduled to meet twice more the Georgians of RC Batumi as follows:

  • Round 5 – January 13th 2018, RC Batumi v Timisoara Saracens, Rugby Arena, Batumi, Georgia, KO 15:00
  • Round 6 – January 20th 2018, Timisoara Saracens v RC Batumi, Cluj Arena, Cluj, Romania, KO 14:00


For the January 13th match, Head Coach Sosene Anesi is sending on the pitch the wing Stephen Shennan, fully recovered after his March 2017 injury and most probably Timisoara Saracens will mark New Zealander’s prop Chris Apoua debut.


“It was very difficult for me to be away from the pitch, but I have worked very hard with our medical staff to recover as quickly as possible. I want to help the team win the next two matches and hopefully we will qualify again for the Challenge Cup.” said Steve Shennan at the pre-match press-conference ahead the trip to Batumi.


The game of Saturday, January 13th will be broadcasted live on TVR HD from h13:00, Romania time.

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