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Spain demand rematch in rugby World Cup qualifying controversy

The Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) on Tuesday officially asked to replay Sunday's controversial loss to Belgium, which saw Romania book a place at the 2019 World Cup.

Spain demand rematch in rugby World Cup qualifying controversy
Spain's Fabien Perrin reacts during the rugby union match between the Black Devils. Photo: AFP

Spain were left incensed by several refereeing calls made by Romanian official Vlad Iordachescu during their 18-10 defeat in Brussels.   

“The FER hopes that World Rugby will allow the game to be replayed, as the image of rugby has been damaged by this game,” the FER said in a statement.    

The FER added that they had asked last month for the three Romanian officials in charge to be replaced, since the two countries were fighting it out for only one automatic spot at the World Cup in Japan.

“The fact that the referee is Romanian and that the same Romanian federation has interests in the result of this match breaks the required impartiality,” the FER said, highlighting the “conflict of interest”.

The Spanish governing body added that after reviewing the game it considered “19 decisions by the referee” to have harmed their team.    

Referee Ioardachescu had to be escorted back to his dressing room after the game because of angry remonstrations from Spanish players.   

READ: Spain cry foul over Romanian ref after Rugby World Cup qualifier defeat

The referee selection committee of Rugby Europe, which runs the European competition, is scheduled to meet in Poznan on Friday during the Under-18 European Championship to review the match.

The sport's global governing body World Rugby has asked Rugby Europe, whose president Octavian Morariu is Romanian, for an explanation over the matter.    

If their defeat to Belgium is confirmed, Spain could still qualify for the World Cup if they win play-off games against Portugal and Samoa.    

Romania are set to maintain their record of having played in every World Cup, with their first pool-phase match against hosts Japan in September 2019.

SPORT

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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