Russia Qualify For Rugby World Cup As Spain, Romania And Belgium Disqualified

Heather Diaz
May 15, 2018

Russian Federation have received a late call-up for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan after Romania were docked points for fielding ineligible players during the European qualifying tournament.

"Therefore, based on a re-modelling of the Rugby Europe Championship tables in the context of Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying, Russian Federation would qualify as Europe 1 into Pool A, replacing Romania, and Germany will replace Spain in the European play-off against Portugal".

The deduction also means Germany replace Spain as the second ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship and they will play Portugal for the right to play-off against Samoa, with the play-off victor also joining Ireland in Pool A.

Spain were on the verge of taking the top European qualification berth via the Rugby Europe Championship and needed only a win over Belgium in their final fixture in March to secure passage.

"Romania has fielded one ineligible player on eight occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which six matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying)", a statement read.

Spain's initial appeal to replay their match against Belgium, when a Romanian referee was in charge and Spain's shock defeat sent Romania through at their expense, was rejected, despite the sport's governing body supporting it. Russian Federation will now play host nation Japan in the opening game of the tournament.

Eligibility for worldwide rugby is a notoriously complicated affair, with countries often nominating their own choice of "capture" level team that ensures a player can not then switch nationalities.

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Belgium therefore lost 30 points after being found to have fielded five ineligible players across six matches.

As a result, Belgium were fined 125,000 pounds, suspended for a period of five years conditional that no breaches occur during that period.

This will be the first World Cup Romania misses.

"Subject to any appeal of the disputes committee's decision, the victor of the European playoff between Germany and Portugal, provisionally scheduled for June 9 will play Samoa home-and-away in the playoff to determine the final Pool A place".

Subject to any appeal, the Manu will host the victor of the European play-off between Germany and Portugal in Apia on June 30th, with the return leg in Europe on July 14th. The loser will still have a chance of progress via the Repechage competition in November.

"However, the invitation to overturn a result because of the "appearance of bias" or because of the unsatisfactory way that Rugby Europe dealt with the proper request made by Spain to remove the match officials, is in our judgment not sufficient".

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