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Rugby Europe officials to meet this week to review controversial RWC2019 qualifier

Romanian referee under fire after Belgium’s 18-10 win against Spain.

Irate Spanish players confronted referee Vlad Iordachescu at the final whistle.
Irate Spanish players confronted referee Vlad Iordachescu at the final whistle.
Image: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

RUGBY EUROPE BOSSES will meet this week to review the official match report on Belgium and Spain’s controversial Rugby World Cup qualifier.

Tournament officials have come under pressure following their decision to appoint Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu for Sunday’s decisive game in Brussels.

Belgium’s 18-10 win not only denied Spain automatic qualification and a place in Ireland’s pool at Japan 2019 but, in the process, ensured that Iordachescu’s native Romania qualified in their place.

Irate Spanish players surrounded the referee at the final whistle, and both the Spanish coach Santiago Santos and Spanish Rugby Federation president Alfonso Feijoo were pointed in criticising Iordachescu’s performance afterwards.

This morning, World Rugby said in a statement:

While World Rugby does not appoint match officials for the Rugby Europe Championship, it is in contact with Rugby Europe to understand the context of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on Sunday, which doubled as an important RWC 2019 qualifier.

Rugby Europe were last night forced to defend the process by which they appoint match officials which, they said, was carried out “ahead of the competition by an independent and neutral skilled committee.”

Their statement read: “Further to the game between Belgium and Spain, played in Brussels today, Rugby Europe would like to precise that Rugby Europe has always operated the highest standards of match official selection whatever the competitions. Our structures have provided a pathway for some of the world’s top officials.

“As for other international major competitions, referees’ appointments for Rugby Europe Championship have been made ahead of the competition by an independent and neutral skilled committee (no Rugby Europe board members involved).

“It has been reviewed and confirmed during the tournament based on referees’ performance at international level.

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“While we appreciate that this is a subject of high-emotion, it would be inappropriate to comment on match official performance before the usual full review has been undertaken.

This is usual procedure and occurs for every match.”

A further statement issued on Monday morning confirmed that a review will take place on Friday following the receipt of the official match report.

“Rugby Europe Selection Committee is waiting for the assessment report of the Supervisor for Belgium v Spain Match officials.

“In addition, this Committee will meet in Poznan next Friday on the occasion of the Rugby Europe U18 Championships. Its agenda will be modified and a large portion of the meeting will be devoted to the analysis of every stage of the Belgium v Spain game.

“Following this meeting, a statement will be released to Rugby Europe Board of Directors for dissemination.”

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