Russian Federation to play at 2019 Rugby World Cup after Romania lose place

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

"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.

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.

Russian Federation had initially finished in third place in the qualification table, behind Romania and Spain, but advance in top spot while Germany, who were sitting in fifth and final place, move up to second and will face a playoff against Portugal - the victor of which will play Samoa.

Germany, who have never been in the World Cup, now have another chance as they are promoted to face Portugal in a play-off, with the winners facing Samoa for a place in the tournament.

"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)".

An investigation was launched in March after Romania qualified for the quadrennial event by virtue of a controversial victory for Belgium over Spain.


Manu Samoa rugby coach Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua says up to half of their first choice squad could be unavailable for the team's rescheduled World Cup qualifying matches. The committee accepted that both parties had acted in good faith but chose to dock Romania 30 points - five for each match played in qualifying.

The sport's governing body went on to say that "Fans who have purchased tickets for Rugby World Cup 2019 matches involving Romania via official channels will be entitled to a full refund for the face value of the ticket should they not wish to attend".

"In order to maximise Samoa's preparation for these important matches, World Rugby is also funding Samoa's entry into the 2018 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji between 9-16 June, which features Fiji, Georgia and Tonga". They were given a £100,000 ($180,703) suspended fine and their 30 docked points overturned their World Cup qualification.

"No further comment will be made while the 14-day appeal window is open".

They are scheduled to play Japan in the tournament's opening match on September 20 next year at the Tokyo Stadium.

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