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Spain request for World Cup qualifier against Belgium to be replayed

A video package including 19 instances of alleged bias by the Romanian official has also been submitted to World Rugby.

The Romanian official had to be escorted from the pitch at full time.
The Romanian official had to be escorted from the pitch at full time.
Image: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

THE SPANISH RUGBY Federation has today lodged a formal complaint to World Rugby over the appointment of a Romanian official for last weekend’s crucial World Cup qualifying game against Belgium, and called for the fixture to be replayed.

Referee Vlad Iordachescu had to be escorted off the pitch following Spain’s 18-10 defeat in Brussels in the Rugby Europe Championship, a result which sent Romania to the 2019 World Cup.

Spain were one win away from booking their place in Japan but instead have to enter the play-offs, where they will face Portugal over two legs before a potential meeting Samoa for the chance to qualify for a second World Cup.

In a statement released this afternoon, the Spanish Rugby Federation says it requested a new team of officials to be appointed for the fixture once it became clear their direct rivals could benefit and cited last weekend’s England-Ireland Six Nations clash as the precedent for replacing officials.

The appointment of Iordachescu, they say, violated the principal of impartiality and was a clear conflict of interests.

In addition, the Spanish Rugby Federation has submitted a video package to World Rugby which highlights 19 of the referee’s actions which they feel prove their chances of winning the game were harmed.

“The FER had requested 20 days before the meeting, once the interests of Romania were affected by the result of this game, the replacement of the three members. Application that was denied by Rugby Europe,” a statement read.

“The maintenance of the appointment of these arbitrators broke the guarantee of a transparent competition, leading to conflicts of interest, a circumstance that should be avoided in any sporting activity. The fact that the three arbitrators belonged to the Romanian Federation, some of them with positions of responsibility in the game, motivated the distrust on their impartiality. This simple suspicion should have been sufficient to access the request of the Spanish Federation.”

While World Rugby does not appoint officials for the Rugby Europe Championship, the governing body yesterday said it would seek explanations over why a Romanian referee was chosen to officiate the game.

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In a statement, tournament organisers Rugby Europe said it would wait for a supervisor’s report on the match before taking any further action.

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