Tuesday 14 August 2018

Spain and Romania hold out World Cup hope after appealing sanctions

Spanish players confront referee Vlad Iordachescu after their defeat against Belgium which dented their World Cup chances. Photo: Getty Images
Spanish players confront referee Vlad Iordachescu after their defeat against Belgium which dented their World Cup chances. Photo: Getty Images

Sam Roberts

Spain and Romania have appealed to World Rugby over sanctions that prevent them from competing at the 2019 World Cup.

Both sides were docked points for fielding ineligible players during the qualification process, opening the way for Russia to take their place in Pool A of the tournament along with Ireland, Scotland and Japan.

Romania had originally won qualification as they topped the group ahead of Spain in second place. The campaign was mired in controversy as Spain missed out on qualification when they slipped to a shock defeat to Belgium in the final game. The Spanish were furious with the selection of a Romanian referee for the crucial tie, citing an alleged conflict of interest.

World Rugby today confirmed that both sides would be challenging the ruling. The organisation said that Romania had accepted they had breached the rule on fielding ineligible players, but they would be appealing the points deduction that led to them missing out on the World Cup.

Spain, meanwhile, will be appealing to World Rugby on two grounds. First, on the rejection of their application to have their final game with Belgium replayed after the referee controversy, and second that they had broken the ineligible player rule.

World Rugby had ruled in their judgement that Mathieu Belie and Bastien Fuster were ineligible to play for Spain based on their previous appearances for the France U20 side, but there is dispute over whether U20 caps bound the players to France.

The appeals will be heard on the 1st of June by World Rugby's independent Appeals Committee.

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