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15 May 2018, 09:49 | Anna Jefferson
Russia into Rugby World Cup as Romania are disqualified
Russian Federation have been granted a place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania and Spain were found to have fielded ineligible players during the qualification stage.
In the latest twist to a complicated and controversial series of matches and following an investigation by the independent judicial and disputes committee, World Rugby have docked the three nations five match points for each ineligible player used.
"Russia will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Europe 1, joining Ireland, Scotland, Japan and the play-off victor in Pool A, while Germany will progress to the European play-off with Portugal, subject to the appeals process", said a World Rugby statement today.
This means that Germany are elevated to a match against Portugal on June 9 for a chance to meet Samoa in the final play-off.
"In addition, World Rugby has already formally reminded all unions and regional associations of their obligations regarding Regulation 8 and will reiterate at the Annual Meeting of Council this week, while World Rugby will also oversee match official appointments at all stages of future Rugby World Cup qualifiers".
The European qualifying tournament was thrown into disarray when Spain lost 18-12 in their final game to Belgium, having only needed a win to qualify for Japan.
"The committee's decision and findings clearly demonstrate issues with the processes adopted by some of the participating unions relating to the eligibility of players as well as the delivery and organisation of the Rugby Europe Championship".
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.
The committee ruled that "that each team be deducted five championship points for each game in which an ineligible player or players participated".
The upshot is that Belgium and Romania have been hit with a 30-point deduction and Spain with a 40-point deduction. "We have imposed financial sanctions which are to be suspended for five years". Romania were docked 100,000 pounds while Spain were hit for 50,000 pounds.
This will be the first World Cup Romania misses. The victor of that tie will go into World Cup Pool A alongside Russian Federation.
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.
"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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