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Five Spain players hit with lengthy bans following controversial World Cup qualifier

They accosted Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu after their 18-10 defeat to Belgium.

Image: Olivier Matthys

RUGBY EUROPE HAVE banned five Spain players in the wake of their highly controversial Rugby World Cup qualifier defeat to Belgium.

The players in question came to the boil at the final whistle and angrily confronted Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu, with scrum-half Sébastien Rouet receiving the largest ban — 43 weeks — for physical abuse of a match official and verbal abuse.

Guillaume Rouet was handed a 36-week ban for the same two offences, while flankers Pierre Barthere and Lucas Guillaume and fly-half Mathieu Belie have been banned for 14 weeks each for threatening actions/words towards a match official.

The suspensions were considered at a meeting of Rugby Europe’s Independent Judicial Committee today, chaired by Scotland’s Professor Lorne Crerar. The players involved have a week to appeal the decision, with the bans taking immediate effect and applying to club and national teams.

Last month’s Rugby Europe Championship loss saw Spain miss their chance to qualify automatically for the World Cup, and sent Romania through to the 2019 tournament instead.

Iordachescu had to be escorted off the pitch as Spanish players protested that he had been excessively and deliberately harsh on them in the 18-10 defeat in Brussels.

Octavian Morariu, the president of Rugby Europe, which organises qualification for countries outside the Six Nations, is also Romanian.

Tweet by @Murray Kinsella Source: Murray Kinsella/Twitter

Earlier this month, World Rugby ordered an emergency review into ineligibility issues as Spain requested a replay.

On Monday, International Rugby Players called on World Rugby to take more control over global tournaments in the wake of the controversy surrounding the Championship.

The committee today also postponed a decision on whether to punish the Spanish Rugby Union.

You can read a full statement on the decision of Rugby Europe’s Independent Judicial Committee here.

- Additional reporting by AFP

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