Friday, 21 September, 2018

Russian Federation benefit after Romania, Spain and Belgium deducted points

Russia have replaced Romania in Pool A at the 2019 World Cup Russia have replaced Romania in Pool A at the 2019 World Cup
Kristopher Love | 15 May, 2018, 20:50

Romania was disqualified from the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Tuesday after fielding ineligible players in qualifying.

On Wednesday, the independent disputes confirmed that "Belgium had fielded one or more ineligible players on seven occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which six matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying)".

However, an independent committee found that the result should stand, although they also ruled that Spain, Belgium and Romania had fielded ineligible players during the qualifying tournament. A final team will be added following a play-off, with the winners of Germany and Portugal facing Samoa later this summer.

"World Rugby is committed to addressing these issues and will lead a review of European tournament delivery in the context of Rugby World Cup qualifying in full partnership with Rugby Europe".

The victor will play Samoa in a World Cup play-off for the right to join Ireland's Pool A at Japan 2019.

All three sanctioned teams were fined from £50,000 to £125,000.

World Rugby stated: "While the independent disputes committee has determined that mistakes were not made in bad faith by Rugby Europe and some participating unions, World Rugby is extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events, as expressed when announcing the convening of the independent committee".

The victor on aggregate will qualify for Pool A, while the loser will progress to the repechage competition in November.

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 committee also recommended that World Rugby re-emphasise the importance and sanctity of Regulation 8 (eligibility) and any other steps that will prevent a repeat of these circumstances".

World Rugby said it will oversee the appointments of all future match officials in Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

World Rugby said it is "extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events" and added: "Regulation 8 covering eligibility is essential to maintaining the unique characteristics and culture of elite competitions between unions, and the integrity of worldwide matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation".