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Player Profile: Mihai Macovei

Player Profile: Mihai Macovei

Player Profile: Mihai Macovei

This Summer Nations Series, we will get to witness a true rugby legend, Romania captain Mihai Macovei.

A stalwart of two previous Rugby World Cup campaigns, Macovei has been an important member of the Romania side since making his debut in 2006.

In almost two decades, the utility forward has been a constant for the Oaks, over a period of sustained progress, regularly finishing among the top three in the Rugby Europe Championship.

And as he prepares for his side to face Italy in the Summer Nations Series, before a third Rugby World Cup, we look at his journey from newcomer to icon of the sport.

The start of the journey 

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Macovei made his Romania debut in a routine 58-0 win over Ukraine in June 2006 in Kiev alongside Romania’s most capped player Florin Vlaicu.

Despite a 25-24 defeat to Russia the following week, Macovei was able to get an early taste of success with his country, as they lifted the European Nations Cup title on points difference over Georgia.

The 2006-2008 edition of the European Nations Cup did not go quite as well for Romania, finishing third overall but Macovei did score his first try for his country, in a 76-7 win over Czech Republic in the final game.

Romania returned to the top of the tree in the inaugural single year competition, with Macovei featuring in three matches as he began to stake his claim as a key cog in the forward pack.

The Oaks would then qualify for the 2011 Rugby World Cup thanks to their repechage victory over Uruguay.

2011 World Cup 

Having earned his stripes across five years of playing for his country, Macovei was selected to represent Romania at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Drawn in a group with Argentina, England, Scotland and Georgia, it looked as though it would be a challenging World Cup for the Oaks.

They almost caused one of the great Rugby World Cup shocks against Scotland in Round 1, leading 24-21 after 67 minutes thanks to Daniel Carpo’s score but a late double from Simon Danielli broke Romanian hearts.

Unfortunately they were unable to get close to their three other opponents but Macovei played in all four matches, something that would be of great importance four years later.

2015 World Cup and captaincy 

After consistent second place finishes in the European Nations Cup, Romania qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Following the retirement of hooker Marius Tincu, Macovei was appointed captain for the tournament.

The Oaks were drawn in a group with France, Ireland, Italy and Canada.

They fell short against both France and Ireland before one of the great Rugby World Cup comebacks against Canada, where Macovei was the protagonist.

Trailing 15-0 five minutes into the second half, Macovei masterminded an incredible response from The Oaks, scoring both of his team’s tries as they went on to win 17-15.

That gave them a shot at automatic qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup against Italy but in the absence of captain Macovei, they were unable to repeat the feat and lost 32-22.

Following that World Cup, Macovei joined Pro D2 side Colomiers, where he spent seven years.


In the 2022 November internationals, Macovei became just the fifth Romanian to reach 100 caps in their 22-0 defeat against Samoa.

He then went on to earn three more caps in the Rugby Europe Championship, taking him to 103 caps and making him the third most capped Romanian in history.

At 36, he has some way to go to reach record holder Vlaicu’s 129 but with his passion for the game, he could well stick around to overtake and become his nation’s all-time cap holder.


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