Big drama for World Rugby after Spain and Belgium controversy
REACTION: World Rugby have released a statement following the ugly scenes that marred the end of a Belgium and Spain's Rugby Europe Championship match in Brussels.
They have also alluded to the wider controversy surrounding the appointment of a Romanian referee for the match, a match which had a direct effect on the outcome on Romania’s successful qualification for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Spain were in pole position with a game in hand over Romania and needed to defeat Belgium in the final round of European qualification matches to confirm their participation at a Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1999.
However Belgium bagged an upset victory and ugly scenes then ensued which saw Spanish players harass and chase after Romanian referee, Vlad Iordachescu.
World Rugby have released the following statement: "While World Rugby does not appoint match officials for the Rugby Europe Championship, it is in contact with Rugby Europe to understand the context of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on Sunday, which doubled as an important RWC 2019 qualifier,"
It’s been a tough few weeks for World Rugby, who last week admitted an oversight that saw a referee sent to assist England training who was set to be an assistant referee at the England Ireland match.
A statement from World Rugby said: "World Rugby has confirmed that Marius van der Westhuizen will be replaced by Nigel Owens as Assistant Referee for the Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.
"The decision follows Marius’ attendance at an England training session this week. While greater dialogue and collaboration between match officials and teams (including attending team training on request) has been agreed by World Rugby and the teams, Marius should not have been involved given that he was a member of the match official team for the weekend’s match.
"World Rugby takes responsibility for this oversight and has taken the proactive decision to stand Marius down to avoid any additional unfair and unnecessary conjecture. Marius is an outstanding talent with a big international future and both he and his employer SARU fully support the decision,"
They also received criticism from Eddie Jones after they clarified that a Welsh try should have stood during England and Wales Six Nations match in Twickenham.
Romania, who lost 16-25 to Georgia in a match that did not count towards qualification, will join Six Nations champions Ireland, Scotland, host Japan and the Play-Off winner in Pool A.
Reward also comes in the form of playing Japan in the opening match at the Toyota Stadium on September 20, 2019.
Despite the loss, Spain are confirmed as the second-placed team in European qualification and must now play Portugal for the right to play Samoa in home and away fixtures.
The winner on aggregate will join Romania in Pool A as the Play-Off winner, while the loser will participate in the four-team Repechage in November against Canada and two their teams.