Russian Federation into Rugby World Cup as Romania are disqualified

Russia Rugby World Cup 2019

Russian Federation have qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania - who had initially taken the slot - Spain and Belgium were docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition, World Rugby have announced.

World Rugby stated: "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".

On the matter of the match between Spain and Belgium, World Rugby did state that: "the way in which Rugby Europe dealt with Spain's request for a change of match officials (in the build-up to the match) was not adequate".

In the case of Romania, the committee said the union could have taken more steps to inquire as to the relevant player's eligibility with World Rugby.

Initially, the investigation was to cover whether Spain vs Belgium should be replayed, after the Spaniards claimed that their defeat was unduly influenced by the Romanian referee, as Romania automatically qualified ahead of Spain due to the result.

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In the aftermath, the eligibility of certain players in the tournament was also raised.

Spain and Belgium will not replay their controversial Rugby Europe Championship match after an independent committee completed their review. 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.

All three sanctioned teams were fined from £50,000 to £125,000.

"World Rugby notes the outcome of the independent disputes committee review into matters relating to the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championship, competitions that doubled as a Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification event", said a statement issued on Tuesday. The victor then faces Samoa for a place in the World Cup. The loser will still have a chance of progress via the Repechage competition in November.

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.

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