Russia will replace Romania as Europe 1 qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after a World Rugby inquiry into ineligible players saw Romania, Spain and Belgium handed points deductions for fielding ineligible players during qualification matches. The Bears join Ireland, Scotland, Japan and the play-off winner in Pool A.
In a statement released on Tuesday, World Rugby also said that Germany (replacing Spain) will progress to the European play-off with Portugal, subject to the appeals process. The winner of that contest will go on to play Samoa for the 'Play-off Winner' spot in Pool A.
“While the independent disputes committee has determined that mistakes were not made in bad faith by Rugby Europe and some participating unions, World Rugby is extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events, as expressed when announcing the convening of the independent committee,” read the statement.
“Regulation 8 covering eligibility is essential to maintaining the unique characteristics and culture of elite competitions between unions, and the integrity of international matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation.
“The committee’s decision and findings clearly demonstrate issues with the processes adopted by some of the participating unions relating to the eligibility of players as well as the delivery and organisation of the Rugby Europe Championship.”
It continued: “World Rugby is committed to addressing these issues and will lead a review of European tournament delivery in the context of Rugby World Cup qualifying in full partnership with Rugby Europe. This will include the organisation’s processes for eligibility compliance and match official appointments in order to prevent a repeat of these unfortunate events.
“In addition, World Rugby has already formally reminded all unions and regional associations of their obligations regarding Regulation 8 and will reiterate at the Annual Meeting of Council this week, while World Rugby will also oversee match official appointments at all stages of future Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“Fans who have purchased tickets for Rugby World Cup 2019 matches involving Romania via official channels will be entitled to a full refund for the face value of the ticket should they not wish to attend. Requests for refunds will need to be submitted by the ticket purchaser to the company they purchased their tickets/ticket-inclusive package from.
“No further comment will be made while the 14-day appeal window is open.”
Credit: Planet Rugby