Confirmed: No World Cup for Spain and Romania
WORLD CUP UPDATE: World Rugby dismissed appeals by Romania and Spain against their disqualification from the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Russia were awarded a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan after World Rugby sensationally disqualified Spain, Romania and Belgium on May 15.
Russia had finished third in European qualifying for the World Cup, but head to the tournament after Romania, who originally won the section, second-placed Spain and fourth-placed Belgium were all docked points for fielding ineligible players.
World Rugby set up an independent disputes committee to hear the two appeals by Romania and Spain, the conclusion of which was released Wednesday.
“World Rugby welcomes the conclusion of the independent disciplinary process relating to the European qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2019 and is determined to avoid a repeat of these unfortunate circumstances in the future,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont stressed it was “important that the game learns from what were an unfortunate set of circumstances to prevent this from happening again”.
There would now be “a full review of eligibility processes operational within the game with the objective of ensuring universal best-practice and compliance”.
Interestingly, World Rugby said it would also “explore the viability of a universal eligibility database of players who have been ‘captured’ by an international team, supplementing significant support already given to unions by World Rugby in assisting with eligibility enquiries”.
In addition, the body said it would now oversee the appointments of match official at all stages of future Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
The controversy kicked off when Spain’s rugby federation (FER) demanded a rematch of their loss to Belgium, which ultimately allowed Romania to qualify at their expense for next year’s showpiece in Japan.
The FER pointed to several errors by the referee, Romanian Vlad Iordachescu, during an 18-10 defeat in Brussels in which the official had to be protected from irate Spanish players as he left the field.
World Rugby set up a disputes committee to examine Spain’s complaints.
But in a surprise outcome the committee found that Spain, Belgium and Romania had all fielded ineligible players during qualifying matches for the World Cup.
Subsequently, Spain were docked 40 points with Romania and Belgium penalised 30 each – five points for every match in which an ineligible player appeared.
It meant that Russia won the group despite winning only half of their eight qualification matches, while Germany who lost six of theirs, were second and head into the play-offs.
All three sanctioned teams were fined from £50,000 to £125,000.
Enjoy the latest episode of Late tackle!