USAP: Mahu the Moldovan bet

the essential
It is one of the bets attempted by the USAP. Will strong Moldovan second row Andrei Mahu be a good pick? The fellow is not lacking in assets.

It’s hard to miss Andreï Mahu. With his build of a decathlete (2.05 m for 120 kg), his short, brush-cut hairstyle, which gives him false airs of GI Joe, difficult to go unnoticed for the new second line of the USAP, who played his first minutes against Montpellier. When you have been told his story, you will be downright impressed …

« At 20 years, says Glodeni’s child *, I had never touched a rugby ball… I didn’t even know what rugby was! «  It is at the university, in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, where he follows a course in economics that his universe will switch to oval mode. « At university, one of my teachers was the coach of the Moldovan national team, continues Andreï. With my physique, he told me that I should try his sport. When he said « rugby » to me, I immediately thought of American football. I signed up for the varsity team, but was disappointed. No « cheerleaders » dancing on the edge of the field, no shoulder protection, no helmet on your head … After two months of training, I found it boring. So my coach made me play a game. I liked it. The physical commitment, the tackles corresponded better to my temperament. I continued. » His stoutness matched the discipline perfectly. Much better in any case than the football he played when he was younger, « no way to play **, he laughs. I hurt everyone in the face, I was advised to stop… «  Or that basketball, « it did not work », despite its large size.

It all started in Romania

His career changed with the arrival of a Romanian technician at the University of Chisinau, within the framework of exchanges between Moldova and Romania. He spots an athlete with golgoth measurements and has Constanta sign him. Mahu very quickly joined SCM Timisoara, now renamed Timisoara Saracens, with which he won the Romanian Cup (2014) and took Romanian nationality ***. A freelance as a medical joker at the Zebra de Parma, then a season in Piacenza introduced him to Italian rugby. But it was at Krasny Yar, one of the two Siberian clubs in Krasnoyarsk, that he landed in 2017. In Russia, he discovered the European challenge. On October 14, 2017, he played in the second row against the defending champion Stade Français. Krasny Yar creates the feat and wins 34-29! « Man of the match », Andreï Mahu could then have caught the eye of the supervisors of the Top 14. But it is in England that he will continue his career, with the London Irish, in 2020. « I discovered the high level there, he says. Unfortunately, I injured my right knee very quickly. And when I came back I struggled to gain the coaches’ trust. I would have been South African or Australian, it would have been easier for me… «  The USAP proposal is timely. « In Perpignan, I want to prove that I am capable of playing at the highest level. What surprised me the most? The heat! After the Siberian cold of Krasnoyarsk and the humid fog of London… ». Interrupting his sentence, the Moldovan giant continues in French: « I can also speak French… ». The remains of two years spent learning the language of Molière in a French school in Chisinau. Andreï Mahu has not finished surprising. This is what the USAP hopes. He dreams of following in the footsteps of Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield, his rugby references. All he has to do is take up the challenge …

* Glodeni is located northwest of the capital, Chisinau, and close to the Romanian border. ** Translate « no way to play. » *** The very close relations between Romania and Moldova make it easy to obtain dual nationality . The Romanians were the first to recognize the young state of Moldova when it gained independence in 1991.

USAP with Carey and Cavubati tomorrow against Colomiers

Patrick Arlettaz and the staff of the USAP unveiled yesterday the group called to face Colomiers, tomorrow in Aimé-Giral (8 p.m.). The new English recruit, Conor Carey, who came to strengthen the right axis of the Catalan fray, and the powerful Fijian second line Tevita Cavubati, make their appearance in the team, where Mamea Lemalu reappears, unlike his Samoan compatriot Seilala Lam, injured and who is waiting for additional examinations before knowing the duration of his unavailability. « Pato » Fernandez, recovered from his dislocated shoulder, will return to competition at Ernest-Wallon, during the Toulouse Sevens on Saturday, for which Fakatika and Maafu were also called. Finally, good news, the Argentine international scrum half Martin Landajo (84 caps for the Pumas) arrived in Perpignan last night by Eurostar then the TGV, with wife and children.

Forwards: Bravo, Carey, Cavubati, Chouly, Eru, Faasalele, Joly, Labouteley, Lotrian, Mahu, Mamea Lemalu, Mavinga, Ramasibana, Shengelia, Tadjer, Tetrashvili, Taofifenua, Ugena, Velarte.

Rear: Acebes, Duguivalu, Deghmache, Dubois, Ecochard, Farnoux, Tedder, Pérez, Plana, Pujol, Rodor, Seguela, Tilsley, Vaitulukina.

The team for the Toulouse Sevens: D. Jaminet, Moro, Montagne, Soldevila, H. Tuilagi, Berguet, Darrelatour, Labro, Detre, Zaitri, Fernandez, Fakatika, Maafu, Sans.

The fourth Moldovan

Andreï Mahu will not be the first Moldovan player to operate in the French professional league. Three others preceded him, « all right pillars », laughs the second line of the USAP. His predecessors? Vadim Cobilas (Bordeaux-Bègles, Top 14), Christian Ojovan (Clermont, Top 14) and Gheorghe Gajion (Aurillac, Pro D2).

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