Russian Federation qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 in place of Romania

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Russian Federation will replace Romania in Pool A of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after an independent disputes committee's review into circumstances surrounding the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championship, handed down points deductions for fielding ineligible players.

The points deduction set forth in today's ruling means that as well as Russian Federation going into a World Cup pool alongside tournament hosts Japan, Ireland and Scotland, it also means that Spain will no longer take part in a play-off match with Portugal.

This means that Germany are elevated to a match against Portugal on June 9 for a chance to meet Samoa in the final play-off.

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

World Rugby received complaints that various countries in the tournament had fielded players who were not eligible to play either because there was no qualifying connection with their particular country, or because the player had already been "captured" by playing for another country, with Spain fielding one or more ineligible players on eight occasions.

"World Rugby Regulation 8 stipulates mandatory financial penalties for breaches of 25,000 pounds per ineligible player for a union not represented on the World Rugby Council and 100,000 pounds for a union represented on Council", the press release said.

The European qualifying tournament was thrown into disarray when Spain lost 18-12 in their final game to Belgium, having only needed a win to qualify for Japan.

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This will be the first World Cup Romania misses.

Tuesday's announcement is not the only controversy to surround the Championship, after five Spain players were banned for a combined total of 121 weeks for their furious reaction to Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu's handling of their crucial clash with Belgium.

"The committee's decision and findings clearly demonstrate issues with the processes adopted by some of the participating unions relating to the eligibility of players as well as the delivery and organisation of the Rugby Europe Championship".

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

Spain used Mathieu Belie and Bastien Fuster, who have both previously played for France Under-20s, in eight qualification matches, leading to a 40-point deduction and a 50,000 pounds suspended fine.

"However, the invitation to overturn a result because of the "appearance of bias" or because of the unsatisfactory way that Rugby Europe dealt with the proper request made by Spain to remove the match officials, is in our judgment not sufficient".

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".

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