Marius Mitrea has been a referee in the Guinness PRO14 since 2011 when he took charge of a match between Connacht and Scarlets.
Born in Romania, the 35-year-old lives in Italy and can speak an incredible five languages including Spanish, French and English.
Mitrea is the latest to tackle our referee’s Q&A to give us a glimpse into his career and what he gets up to in his spare time.
Who was your rugby hero growing up?
It was Jonah Lomu when I was a young boy. For him to be in the news in Italy it meant he had done something special.
He was a real sports hero that triggered a lot of kids my age to play rugby and you need a sport model to follow a bit like Jonny Wilkinson was and Dan Carter and Richie McCaw are now.
Even if you didn’t know rugby you knew who Jonah Lomu was, he did something special for the game.
If you weren’t a referee, what would you be doing?
My old job was an International Freight Forwarder dealing with imports and exports because of the many languages I know. I was working with English and French staff.
If you could change one rugby law, what would it be?
I think the TMO reviews should go back to just checking the try, yes or no, like the old days and that’s it, not checking for anything else because the players are appealing for checking.
I think the games are getting longer and longer so we should let the referees do the decisions if they’re wrong just move on.
If money were no object, where in the world would you like to visit?
Japan is an unbelievable place, I have been for a couple of weeks in 2015 and it’s an incredible country.
You have everything from the big cities to small villages and everything in between, people are so polite and respectful even in Tokyo where there is 20 million people.
There’s no traffic james and everyone is so well behaved and polite and the food, apart from Italian, is the best in the world.
What is your pre-match routine before a game?
There’s no pre-match routine. Because of travel I don’t have much time for a routine.
Every game is different in a different environment so you have to adapt.
I try to stay away from the teams and just work with the other match officials to make sure we’re as good as possible.
What do you discuss with your assistant referees ahead of a match?
In the week before you break the game down into scrum, line-out, break down, and I am looking out for trends.
I don’t like to go out and look for things which may not be there, I don’t want that in the back of my mind.
If there are trends then that’s something you need to be aware otherwise referee what’s in front of you.
What advice would you give to an up-and-coming referee?
Just be honest with yourself, that’s the main thing. Don’t try to look for excuses – that’s the worst thing you can do.
What’s the hardest part about being a referee?
The travel. We are in planes or airports for months of the year, last year I was out of Italy for five months if you added up all the days.
You are away from family and friends and that’s the toughest part of all. I have a little girl Victoria who is three years old and every time I come home something has changed.
She’s learned something different and you miss those things that don’t come back. It’s good when you are young and you can travel and enjoy the travel but when you have responsibilities it’s tough.
Where’s the most exotic place refereeing has taken you?
The most exotic place I’ve been was Tonga this summer. It’s an unbelievable place to be.
The people are huge, really big, but they are so mild and welcoming and try to make you feel like you’re at home even if you are on the other side of the world.
What is your favourite memory of refereeing a match?
Every game you go into there’s something unforgettable but If I had to choose one I think refereeing in Clermont.
I have been there in the last couple of years it’s one of the loudest stadiums in the world to referee because of the crowd and their encouragement.
Everything is yellow and the yellow army, even if they lose, they want to sing. They are so friendly and they really love rugby in Clermont and it makes everyone feel special on the pitch.
What do you discuss with fellow referees when you get together?
We have to speak about rugby at the end of the day, that’s what we are doing – apart from that it’s golf.
That’s the main hobby of referees when we are on tour, especially in the southern hemisphere. They are always looking for the next golf course because that’s the social activity that helps them stay calm and focused.
I try and play but I am not so good. I am improving little by little. It looks so easy but I think it’s one of the most difficult sports because you have to be focused for a long time.
Finally, if you could invite five people to a dinner party, who would you choose?
Player wise I’d invite Richie McCaw because he’s one of the most intelligent players there is. Then actor Jean-Claude Van Damme, politician Bill Clinton and guitarist Carlos Santana. Then my wife Francesca because she’s very supportive.