Russian Federation into Rugby World Cup as Romania are disqualified

Russia Rugby World Cup 2019

In a controversial outcome to the highly vexed Rugby Europe qualification process for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Russia have qualified for the 2019 tournament and will play in Ireland's group after Romania, Spain and Belgium were each docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition.

As a result, matches against them in the Rugby Europe Championship did not count towards qualification and while some of the games in which ineligible players were fielded were against Georgia, the review committee found enough examples of foul play elsewhere to dock sufficient points for Russian Federation and Germany to advance.

World Rugby has disqualified Romania from the 2019 World Cup and given its place to Russian Federation.

A Romanian match official Vlad Iordachescu had been appointed to officiate at the match with Romania winning 18-0 and advancing to the Rugby World Cup pool stages.

The delay in making a final decision had been criticised by Samoa as it left the Pacific nation without competition in June, while the playoff will now fall outside of the recognised global window.

This equated to 30 points for Romania, for fielding one ineligible player in six matches, 30 for Belgium, for playing five players deemed ineligible in a total of six matches, and 40 for Spain for playing two former French Under-20 French in eight matches.

Recognising this, the independent committee added in its report: "World Rugby might want to consider whether to maintain a database showing players who have been captured by Unions". It goes in as the Europe 1 qualifier in Pool A, joining Ireland, Scotland, and Japan.

Belgium were found to have fielded five ineligible players and were docked 30 points along with a suspended fine of 245 thousand dollars.

Spain and Belgium have 14 days to appeal.

"The principle that "the referee's position as sole judge of fact and law during the match is unassailable" is a core principle of rugby, as is the very limited jurisdiction of a Disciplinary Committee to overturn the decisions of referees made on the pitch after the game", a World Rugby statement read.

It would have been much better for the game if Rugby Europe had, once the mathematics of the final matches of the competition become clear, changed the match officials.

World Rugby also said Regulation 9, which deals with the release of players from their club teams to play test matches, will apply for the rescheduled games to ensure the least-possible disruption for the Pacific islanders, many of whom play their trade in Europe.

"Rugby Europe deeply regrets this situation, " the body said in a statement.

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