Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Russian Federation qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 in place of Romania

Spain's controversial defeat by Belgium in March originally meant Romania advanced to the World Cup Spain's controversial defeat by Belgium in March originally meant Romania advanced to the World Cup
Frederick Owens | 15 May, 2018, 21:49

Russian Federation have qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania, Spain and Belgium were docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition, World Rugby said on Tuesday.

"The deduction of five points for any match in which a union fielded an ineligible player (40-point deduction for Spain, and a 30-point deduction for both Belgium and Romania)", confirmed World Rugby, while Germany - who finished pointless after losing all of their matches - will now face Portugal in a play-off.

As a result all three countries have been disqualified and Russian Federation now take the automatic qualification spot with Germany also elevated to a play-off against Portugal for a chance to meet Samoa with the winners gaining a place in the tournament.

Samoa will take on Germany or Portugal for a place at the Rugby World Cup.

The issue came to light when Romania qualified for next year's showpiece event after Belgium claimed victory over Spain in controversial circumstances.

Eligibility for global 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.

In its conclusion to the review, the disputes committee said: "For the detailed reasons set out above: (1) we have not set aside the result of the match on 18 March 2018; and (2) we have found that Belgium, Spain and Romania fielded ineligible players in RWCQ and Rugby European games and determined that each Union should have deducted 5 points for each game in which an ineligible player or players played".

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Spain and Belgium have also been retrospectively penalised for the same reason.

World Rugby insisted that players would be released for the two matches, however, and revealed that it would fund the country's entry into next month's Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.

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

World Rugby also announced that the rescheduling of Samoa's Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification matches.

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 of that clash will go into the final repechage competition for the chance to qualify for the World Cup.

"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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