Russia have qualified for next year’s Rugby World Cup after Spain, Belgium and Romania were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players.
Spain had hoped for a reprieve after an investigation into their defeat by Belgium, which meant Romania qualified. But the panel ruled that all three countries broke eligibility rules and have been deducted points and some serious fines of up to £100,000 per union.
Russia now join Ireland, Scotland and hosts Japan in Pool A, while Germany meet Portugal in a play-off.
The winners of that go into a Europe/Oceania play-off against Samoa for the chance to complete Pool A at next year’s global showpiece.
Romania have now appealed the ruling, and claim they took all the appropriate steps to determine the availability of Sione Faka’osilea, who has been deemed ineligible after previously representing the Tongan 7s team.
Rugby Romania also say they received assurances directly from the President of the Tongan Rugby Union, Fe’ao Vunipola, the father of England internationals Billy and Mako, that Faka’osilea was eligible to play for Romania.
A World Rugby commented just like a Dad finding his daughter sneaking in from a nightclub at 4 a.m. “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.”
Disappointed…it should really say furious, hence the heavy sanctions and fines
The unions of Spain, Belgium and Romania have a 14-day window in which to appeal against the panel’s decision.
I wonder if they dare appeal #GroundedForLife