Spain's World Cup spot under threat
NEWS: World Rugby on Monday opened a probe into a “potential breach” by Spain of eligibility rules during their successful qualification for next year’s World Cup.
Spain beat Portugal 33-28 in Madrid earlier this month to become the 16th team to qualify for the 2023 World Cup in France.
The victory meant they were assured of second place in the group. Georgia, who had already booked their place in France, top the pool.
That place, however, could be under threat for Spain as World Rugby said it would “convene an independent judicial committee to examine a potential breach by the Spanish Rugby Union (FER) during the Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022, which doubled as the European qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023”.
“World Rugby was made aware of a potential breach concerning one member of the Spanish national men’s senior team,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement.
“Having concluded initial enquiries, the international federation believes a formal independent review is warranted as provided for by the World Rugby regulations.”
According to Spanish media, the player under investigation is South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.
He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.
Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.