Quintin Geldenhuys
Zebre lock Quintin Geldenhuys will captain Italy against Romania in the absence of Sergio Parisse Getty

Ireland and France have already sealed their progression from Pool D, but third place and automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan is still on offer as Italy face Romania at Sandy Park.

Where to watch

Italy vs Romania kicks off at 2.30pm BST on Sunday 11 October. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live.


Having been easily surpassed by France and surprisingly pushed to the limit by minnows Canada, Italy's battling performance against Ireland at the Olympic Stadium last weekend reignited their fighting spirit and momentarily quietened those who have been calling ever louder for a relegation/promotion system to be introduced into the Six Nations, that would allow the likes of Georgia and Romania a chance to accelerate their respective development.

Although the Azzurri were denied a 48th-minute try when Josh Furno was tackled by Peter O'Mahony as he powered towards the line, and only had three Tommaso Allan penalties to show for their efforts in a tense 16-9 loss, such a display – bar a woeful lineout – will have encouraged head coach Jacques Brunel and once again provided a reminder of 32-year-old captain Sergio Parisse's timeless quality.

Sadly for Italy, the influential Parisse, who missed his country's first two fixtures after requiring surgery to drain a haematoma in his left leg, drops out of the match-day squad once again against Romania and is replaced at number eight by Alessandro Zanni of Treviso. In Brunel's only other change to his starting XV, Tommaso Benvenuti comes in for the injured Gonzalo Garcia at inside centre. South African-born lock Quintin Geldenhuys deputises as skipper, while Leonardo Ghiraldini and Martin Castrogiovanni remain sidelined. Leicester prop Michele Rizzo is set to miss up to eight months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the defeat to Ireland.

Predictably unable to cause a shock against the superior firepower of Pool D's two top heavyweights despite the precedent set by Japan, Romania were jubilant in Leicester on 6 October after they rallied back from a first-half deficit against Canada and scored 17 unanswered points in 28 minutes to complete the biggest comeback in World Cup history. Captain Mihai Macovei scored two tries on a memorable evening at the King Power Stadium, but will miss the pivotal clash with Italy after being cited for a dangerous tackle and handed a two-week suspension.

First-choice scrum-half Florin Surugiu also misses out through injury, with Valentin Calafeteanu drafted in and Tudorel Bratu included among the replacements. Valentin Ursache is handed the armband in Macovei's absence and Daniel Carpo gets the nod at number eight.

Mihai Macovei
Mihai Macovei inspired Romania's comeback over Canada but will play no part against Italy in Exeter Getty


Italy: 15. McLean, 14. Sarto, 13. Campagnaro, 12. Benvenuti, 11. Venditti, 10. Allan, 9. Gori; 1. Aguero, 2. Manici, 3. Cittadini, 4. Geldenhuys (c), 5. Furno, 6. Minto, 7. Favaro, 8. Zanni

Replacements: 16. Giazzon, 17. De Marchi, 18. Chistolini, 19. Bernabo, 20. Vunisa, 21. Palazanni, 22. Canna, 23. Bacchin

Romania: 15. Fercu, 14. Lemnaru, 13. Kinikinilau, 12. Vlaicu, 11. Botezatu, 10. Wiringi, 9. Calafeteanu; 1. Lazar, 2. Turashvili, 3. Ion, 4. Poparlan, 5. Van Heerden, 6. V Ursache (c), 7. Lucaci, 8. Carpo

Replacements: 16. Radoi, 17. A Ursache, 18. Pungea, 19. Antonescu, 20. Burcea, 21. Bratu, 22. Apostol, 23. Gal

What the coaches say

Lynn Howells: "I'm pleased for myself but I'm also pleased to take the Romanian team to the next level. That's part of the legacy that I have to leave. If I have done my job I'm hoping that by the end of the second year we would have put in place a head coach to take the team to Japan. If I can do that and then revert back to technical adviser that would probably be the right way to go for the development."

Lynn Howells
Lynn Howells agreed a two-year deal earlier this week to remain in his role as head coach of Romania AFP

Other fixtures

Italy vs Romania is the second of four World Cup fixtures scheduled to take place on Sunday 11 October. Confirmed quarter-finalists Argentina meet Namibia in Leicester, while France and Ireland battle to avoid a last eight meeting with New Zealand and the United States face Japan at Kingsholm.