Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

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

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

"The rescheduled dates will enable the least-possible disruption for Samoa's European and Southern Hemisphere based players, who will be released under Regulation 9, which covers all Rugby World Cup qualifiers", a statement read. That equated to 30 points for Romania and Belgium - who did it in six qualifying matches, and 40 for Spain, who broke the rules on eight occasions.

Russian Federation had finished third in European qualifying for the World Cup but head to the tournament after Romania, who originally won the section, second-placed Spain and fourth-placed Belgium were all docked points for fielding ineligible players.

Though Spain contested the eligibility charge weighed against them, the committee concluded that they were "satisfied that World Rugby's submissions on the fielding of ineligible players by Spain are correct".

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Sione Faka'osilea was ineligible for Romania, Mathieu Belie and Bastien Fuster for Spain, and five players for Belgium, because they previously played for national teams that tied them to countries of their birthplace or weren't qualified by heritage.

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.

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 global matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation".

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World Rugby said in a press release that in line with the decision of an independent disputes committee, "Russia will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Europe 1, joining Ireland, Scotland, Japan and the playoff victor in Pool A, while Germany will progress to the European playoff with Portugal, subject to the appeals process".

The Romanians had topped the group the took the automatic qualifying place with Spain finishing second for a play-off spot. However, they have declined to overturn he result. The committee also criticized Rugby Europe for failing to change the match officials at Spain's request and, instead, asked the officials only if they wanted to step aside.

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

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