Romania refuse to be cowed by France in their RWC opener

Captain Mihai Macovei shrugs off the past and says his team are ready to take on Les Bleus

STANDING TALL: France's Yannick Nyanga, Yoann Maestri and Rory Kockott train at the Olympic stadium

LONDON, 22 Sept - The Romanians will not find much cause for optimism in the record books as they prepare to take on France in their opening game of RWC 2015.

It is the 50th test between the two nations and when they last met nine years ago the match ended 62-14, with Les Bleus the victors for the 39th time.

However, the three-times World Cup runners-up have come into RWC 2015 with mixed form, managing just five wins in nine tests this year. The Romanians have won six from nine.

Moreover, the Oaks have named a starting XV with 648 caps for the Pool D clash at Olympic Park on Wednesday, their most experienced in the World Cup.

With one change to the team that lost 21-16 to Tonga in their last warm-up match, they will be striving for a first victory against France at a major tournament.

Captain Mihai Macovei hopes togetherness will give them an edge against France.

“Our biggest strength is the unity of the team, this is what is going to help us in the big games. I don’t think many teams have that here,” he said.

Andrei and Valentin Ursache will make history as the first set of brothers to represent Romania at a World Cup if they both get on the field on Wednesday. Veteran back row Valentin will play in his third edition while brother Andrei starts on the bench.

Youngest team

France have made 13 changes to the side that defeated Italy 32-10 on Saturday, and, with an average age of 28, Dimitri Szarzewski will be captaining the youngest team for eight years.

Back row Yannick Nyanga dismisses the idea that Szarzewski needs to be the "daddy" of the team.

"It is a young team but we are all grown up in our heads,” he said.

“The young players don't need someone to tell them what to do, they are already players with great experience. Dimitri leads by example on the pitch."

Szarzewski, 32, admitted he did take a somewhat paternal approach to his players: "Yes, the team is young but we have players of experience. I have two kids and I look at the team like a father."

Romania are aiming to avoid a repeat of their RWC 2011 campaign of four straight defeats. They have never made it past the group stages of the tournament, and France will not be looking to end their streak at this World Cup.

French eyes are firmly on the quarter-finals. A win against Romania and a second victory in the pool will keep them on that path.

RNS sec/js/co/sw