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Another twist in RWC2019 qualifying mess as Russia lodge enquiry over player eligibility

Rugby Europe set to discuss controversial Belgium v Spain qualifier again on Thursday.

Belgium v Spain: ugly scenes marred the finish of controversial qualifier.
Belgium v Spain: ugly scenes marred the finish of controversial qualifier.
Image: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

EUROPE’S RUGBY WORLD Cup qualification mess took another turn on Monday as Russian officials voiced their concerns about the eligibility of one of Romania’s players.

Rugby Europe’s board of directors held a conference call to discuss the fallout from Spain’s controversial defeat to Belgium, a result which saw Romania qualify automatically for Japan 2019 at Spain’s expense.

Furious Spanish players confronted referee Vlad Iordachescu, from Romania, at the final whistle and the Spanish rugby federation subsequently lodged a formal request for the match to be replayed.

Following last night’s discussion, Rugby Europe postponed taking any action until Thursday at earliest, when they will reconvene to discuss.

“Board members unanimously requested additional information (in particular [information] provided straight ahead of the meeting to World Rugby) before taking an accurate decision,” a statement read.

It also emerged on Monday that the Russian Rugby Federation (RRF) will lodge an official enquiry to both World Rugby and Rugby Europe concerning the eligibility of Romania’s Sione Faka’osilea, who previously represented Tonga in Rugby Sevens.

“We consider it absolutely unacceptable to blame anyone prior to a thorough investigation by the competent authorities of Rugby Europe and World Rugby, so we will send relevant inquiries to these organisations in the near future,” an RRF official said in a statement.

If Faka’osilea is deemed ineligible, Romania’s place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup — where they are due to play Ireland, Scotland and hosts Japan in Pool A — could be in jeopardy.

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