Romania out of RWC 2019, Japan to play Russian Federation

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

Russian Federation have been awarded a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan after World Rugby sensationally disqualified Spain, Romania and Belgium, the rugby union worldwide governing body said on Tuesday.

In the latest twist to a complicated and controversial series of matches and following an investigation by the independent judicial and disputes committee, World Rugby have docked the three nations five match points for each ineligible player used.

Russian Federation therefore join Ireland, Scotland and hosts Japan in Pool A, while Germany meet Portugal in a play-off.

The victor will then face Samoa for a place in the World Cup.

There is a 14-day window for appeals by all parties.

"In addition, World Rugby has already formally reminded all unions and regional associations of their obligations regarding Regulation 8 and will reiterate at the Annual Meeting of Council this week, while World Rugby will also oversee match official appointments at all stages of future Rugby World Cup qualifiers".

"Romania has fielded one ineligible player on eight occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which six matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying).while Spain had fielded one or more ineligible players on nine occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which eight matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying)".

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

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"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, " World Rugby said in a statement.

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

The victor on aggregate will qualify for Pool A, while the loser will progress to the repechage competition in November.

Spain had hoped for a reprieve after an investigation into their defeat by Belgium, which meant Romania qualified.

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".

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

"The principle that "the referee's position as sole judge of fact and law during the match is unassailable" is a core principle of rugby, as is the very limited jurisdiction of a Disciplinary Committee to overturn the decisions of referees made on the pitch after the game", a World Rugby statement read.

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