Russian Federation qualify for Rugby World Cup as rivals fall

Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu watches the action during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Europe Qualifier match between Belgium and Spain held at Little Heysel next to King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels Belgium

Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu watches the action during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Europe Qualifier match between Belgium and Spain held at Little Heysel next to King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels Belgium

The defeat, in a game refereed by Romanian Vlad Iordachescu, initially saw Romania qualify for Pool A, and five Spanish players were handed lengthy bans for verbally and physically the official after the final whistle.

The judgment means Russian Federation join Ireland, Scotland and Japan in Pool A while Germany and Portugal will clash for the right to face Samoa in a final eliminator for World Cup qualification.

Russian Federation have qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania, Spain and Belgium were docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition, World Rugby said on Tuesday.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest twist to a complicated and controversial series of matches as, following an investigation by the independent Judicial and Disputes committee, the three nations were docked five match points for each ineligible player used.

"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".

World Rugby received complaints that various countries in the tournament had fielded players who were not eligible to play either because there was no qualifying connection with their particular country, or because the player had already been "captured" by playing for another country, with Spain fielding one or more ineligible players on eight occasions. Russian Federation will now play host nation Japan in the opening game of the tournament.

World Rugby also announced that the rescheduling of Samoa's Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification matches.

Germany, who have never been in the World Cup, now have another chance as they are promoted to face Portugal in a play-off, with the winners facing Samoa for a place in the tournament.

Russian Rugby Union deputy chairman Kirill Yashenkov said it was "absolutely fair" his team qualified because other teams committed "grave violations of the rules".

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".

However, the independent committee declined the request by World Rugby and Spain because the appearance of bias was not enough to overturn the result.

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.

Spain lost 40 points after Mathieu Belie and Bastien Fuster played eight qualifying matches illegally after previously representing France Under-20s.

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