Russia Rugby Union team have been sensationally promoted to a place in next year’s Rugby world cup following the decision to sanction Spain, Romania and Belgium for fielding ineligible players.
The result of the World Rugby panel investigation and subsequent decision deduct world cup qualifying points from all three teams means Russia have leaped frogged into pole position and will now join next year’s Rugby World cup hosts Japan, 2018 Grand Slam winners Ireland and the very much improved Scotland in Pool A.
The deductions also mean Germany will now meet Portugal in a play off with the winner meeting the Samoa with the overall victor being awarded the fifth and final place in Group A.
The Spanish RFU had hoped of a reprieve following an investigation referring in their surprise defeat at the hands of Belgium, which was refereed by a Romanian Vlad Lordachescu, with the result meaning Romania at the time took the top spot in the qualifying group.
Since the announcement of the panels findings, Rugby Romania have officially applied the verdict, claiming they took the appropriate steps to determine the eligibility of former Tongan 7’s international Sione Faka’Osilea, even stating their had received personal assurances from the president of Tongan Rugby Union Fe’ao Vunipola that he was eligible to play for Romania.
In a statement from The Romanian Rugby Federation they say:
“The Romanian Rugby Federation cannot accept a decision in which teams that knowingly violate regulations are treated identically to those who comply with all procedural steps required, participation in the World Rugby Cup must not be concluded by such a decision.”
In reply to Romania’s statement the World Rugby also released their own, stating that:
“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.
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.”
All three teams now have a 14 day window in which to lodge any appeal against the panel’s original decision and punishment!