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Russia qualify for 2019 Rugby World Cup after European rivals lose points

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
15th May, 2018

Russia have qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania – who had initially taken the slot – Spain and Belgium were docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition, World Rugby have announced.

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 docked the three nations five match points for each ineligible player used.

That equated to 30 points for Romania and Belgium – who did it in six qualifying matches, and 40 for Spain, who broke the rules on eight occasions.

It sees Russia replace Romania in second place, resulting in their elevation into Japan 2019 behind Georgia who had already made it through on the strength of their performance at the last World Cup.

Spain had hoped for a reprieve following a World Rugby investigation into the circumstances of their loss to Belgium, but the independent panel has chosen to dock all three teams points, subject to appeal.

The judgment means Russia 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.

“Having considered all the evidence, including submissions from World Rugby, Rugby Europe, Spain and Belgium, the independent committee refused the request made by World Rugby and Spain to set aside the result of the match and determined that the match should not be replayed,” the committee said in a statement.

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.”