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2019 RWC qualifying appeals fail, World Rugby vows to take tighter control

The governing body promises to undertake a full review and possibly build a database to help avoid a repeat of the debacle which leaves Russia in Ireland’s Rugby World Cup pool.

A row breaks out as Spain lose to Belgium.
A row breaks out as Spain lose to Belgium.
Image: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

THE APPEALS FROM Spain and Romania, against an independent disputes committee decision to dock qualification points and instead send Russia to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, have failed.

Last month, the lengthy review into a shambolic Rugby Europe qualifying tournament — in which Spain complained about the appointment of a Romanian referee for their decisive defeat to Belgium, which sent Romania through — concluded that Spain, Romania and Belgium would be hit with points deductions for fielding ineligible players.

Both unions took up their right to appeal the decision, but they have been unsuccessful in doing so, meaning Russia will take up the ‘Europe 1′ spot in Ireland’s Rugby World Cup pool A.

Meanwhile, Germany and Portugal will play for the right to take on Samoa for the last place in the same pool.

Another striking element from the independent report into the eligibility quandary was the problematic and haphazard nature of navigating Regulation 8 and ‘player capture’ – i.e: recruiting a player for senior international after they have represented another nation in a different grade.

In a statement welcoming the decision today, World Rugby outlined a five-point plan of  measures they will take in an effort to avoid a repeat of the situation. The steps include examining the viability of a database of players who have been ‘captured’ and a full review as a means to improving the eligibility process.

In the case of the refereeing controversy, Rugby Europe’s tournament delivery will be the subject of a full review and World Rugby will now “oversee match official appointments at all stages of future Rugby World Cup qualifiers, not just the matches that it runs.”

“It is important that the game learns from what were an unfortunate set of circumstances to prevent this from happening again,” said World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

I am committed to leading a review that will deliver a robust and efficient system of ensuring compliance.

“With the full support of our unions and regional associations, World Rugby will undertake a full review of Regulation 8 process and compliance to enhance best practice, identify how we can further assist our unions, ensure our young players are appropriately educated on the regulation, and have complete oversight and approval of match official appointments for future Rugby World Cup qualifiers.”

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Sean Farrell

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