Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

THE INDEPENDENT DISPUTES committee appointed by World Rugby to review the controversial Rugby Europe competition has ruled that Russian Federation will now take a place at the 2019 World Cup.

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.

Instead, Russia - who had originally finished third in the combined table nine points adrift of Romania - will take Europe's final automatic spot in Japan next year, while Germany, who won just two of eight qualification games, will play Portugal in a continental playoff on June 9.

The unions of Spain, Belgium and Romania have a 14-day window in which to appeal against the panel's decision.

Japan will play Russian Federation in the opening game of Rugby World Cup 2019 after Romania were essentially thrown out of the tournament for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying process, World Rugby announced Wednesday.

Romania, Belgium and Spain all felt the committee's sting after it was concluded that all three teams had selected players who did not qualify for them during their campaigns.

The victor on aggregate will qualify for Japan 2019 in Pool A, alongside the hosts, Ireland, Scotland and Russian Federation.

"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".

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

The upshot is that Belgium and Romania have been hit with a 30-point deduction and Spain with a 40-point deduction.

The committee ruled that "that each team be deducted five championship points for each game in which an ineligible player or players participated".

This will be the first World Cup Romania misses.

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.

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.

The aggregate victor qualify for Japan 2019 with the loser to get one final chance via the repechage competition in November.

"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.

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