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Five Spanish players suspended following controversial World Cup qualifier

Players of Spain including Guillaume G Rouet confront the referee after defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Europe Qualifier match between Belgium and Spain held at Little Heysel next to King Baudouin Stadium on March 18, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
19th April, 2018

At last, Rugby Europe has handed down its decision regarding the incident after the Belgium/Spain match last month when several Spanish players confronted the Romanian referee, Vlad Iordachescu.

Below is the statement issued by Rugby Europe:

“Rugby Europe Independent Judicial Committee met on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018 to consider the cases of the Spanish rugby players cited for the overflow at the end of the 2018 Rugby Europe Championship game between Belgium and Spain, played on March 18th 2018.

“Chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar (Scotland), assisted by Mr Jean-Claude Legendre (France) and Mr Aliaksandr Danilevich (Belarus), the Independent Committee has convened the following players: Pierre Barthère, Mathieu Belie, Lucas Guillaume, Guillaume Rouet, Sébastien Rouet as well as the Spanish rugby union’s representatives (F.E.R).

After considering the charges against each player and the F.E.R., the Committee heard the arguments and evidence of all parties.

After deliberations, the Judicial Committee has issued the following sanctions:
Guillaume Rouet (n°9): physical abuse of a Match Official and verbal abuse: 36 weeks
Sébastien Rouet (n°20): physical abuse of a Match Official and verbal abuse: 43 weeks
Pierre Barthere (n°6): threatening actions/words at a Match Official: 14 weeks
Lucas Guillaume (n°7): threatening actions/words at a Match Official: 14 weeks
Mathieu Belie (n°10): threatening actions/words at a Match Official: 14 weeks

“These sanctions are applicable immediately for all players’ rugby activities (clubs and national teams). Players have the right of appeal within seven days of receipt of the written decision. The misconduct complaint against the Spanish rugby union was suspended and a further hearing date will be set.”

These suspensions appear to be very light. All will be eligible for next year’s European Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup if Spain survives to make it.

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If Spain has to contest the repechage game, then three players will have finished their suspensions by then and will eligible to play in it.

Rugby Europe has dodged a decision against the Federation Espagnol de Rugby (FER) but will further investigate the complaint at a later date. Who knows what its finding will be and how long it will take.

With regard to player eligibility, Rugby Europe appears to have passed this on to World Rugby to give its verdict. Four nations could be disqualified – Belgium, Romania, Russia and Spain – so a lot of thought has to be made before any penalties are handed down.

There is also the assessment of Iordachescu’s performance to be released although it has already been revealed that he will not referee another international.


The eligibility question will have to be resolved before deciding whether the Belgium/Spain result will stand, be replayed, overturned or cancelled.

It is expected that World Rugby’s statement on the matters will be handed down within a week.