Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Cătălin Fercu the hidden gem of world rugby


Cătălin Fercu has been tearing through opposition defences for Romania ever since he was a teenager, he became his country’s leading try scorer aged 26 and is one of the most talented backs the Oaks have ever had. But unfortunately he may never get the recognition his talent deserves.

Fercu was identified early by the FRR at his first club Metrorex, and after impressing for the U19 team he was called up aged just 17 to the Romanian squad to face Italy in June 2004. The following year, after captaining one of the best ever Romanian U19 teams, he made his debut in November 2005 scoring a try against Canada.

Fercu has gone onto become the all time leading Romanian try scorer aged only 26, one of the finest players in the ENC and looks likely to become the first player to reach 100 caps for the Oaks.

Despite playing in a team that doesn't get the ball out to the back three too much and having to rely on mostly on counter attack ball for chances to attack, when he does get the ball more often than not he carves up the opposition defence mesmerisingly whilst he also offers a pretty solid defensive game as well.
Fercu dives into to score during
the IRB Nations Cup final in June

Last year Fercu was on particularly phenomenal form, slicing open opposition defences with remarkable consistency and also played a huge role in guiding an helping experimental Oaks side retain the IRB Nations Cup where he was the difference in the final. He has continued 2014 in the same vein, beating numerous defenders in creating a try in the first game against Portugal. He has a great rugby brain and his judging of whether or not to counter is superb, which is why when he does it can be so effective.

However despite an international career spanning over 8 years and an accomplished record with Romania, he is still relatively unheard of amongst the wider rugby world as he has missed out on chances to impress on the biggest stages.

Fercu started his career at a time when the Tier 1 nations were really cutting back on the amount of matches with Tier 2 nations. He played Ireland in his 2nd cap aged 19, and scored a try against France in June 2006 when they played in Bucharest. Since then though, Romania have had next to no high profile fixtures outside the World Cup, and he missed that and was briefly banned from the team due to difficulties in flying.

Domestically as well, he has turned down offers from the Top 14 from teams like Castres with some suggesting that may have been down to his difficulty with travel (although there were vague rumours that some French teams may be interested again which seem to have amounted to nothing).

Fercu looks likely to remain a big fish in a small pond his entire career, and will probably never get more than a couple of games at the next World Cup perhaps to shine on a big stage and have a chance to earn a bit of recognition the way other leading players from the ENC like Mamuka Gorgodze and Marius Tincu have. It would have been interesting to see how far he could have gone had he got the chance to play in a stronger team that created space and chances more often. But we will probably never find out how quite how good a player he could have become, instead we will just have to enjoy him tearing apart the likes of Emerging Italy and Tonga.
GIF: Fercu tears apart Tonga on the counter attack

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