Romania appeal as World Cup saga drags on
Russia were awarded a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan after the rugby union international governing body sensationally disqualified Romania, Spain and Belgium.
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.
In Romania's case, World Rugby said Sione Faka'osilea was ineligible having previously played for the Tonga sevens team.
The Romanian rugby federation insisted Wednesday that Faka'osilea was indeed eligible, having had confirmation from Tonga rugby federation president Fe'ao Vunipola, father of England internationals Billy and Mako, to that note.
According to the Romanian Rugby Union, they sent scanned files of foreign players to World Rugby in order to check their eligibility.
World Rugby's image have truly been tainted throughout the qualification process.
The World Cup qualification grabbed the headlines 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 a 10-18 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 instead of vilifying the Spaniards, the committee revealed 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.
— Romanian Rugby Union (@RugbyRomania) May 16, 2018