Romania out of RWC 2019, Japan to play Russian Federation

Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu watches the action during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Europe Qualifier match between Belgium and Spain held at Little Heysel next to King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels Belgium

Ireland will face Mark McDermott's Russian Federation in next year's Rugby World Cup after World Rugby announced that Romania had been found guilty of fielding ineligible players during the European qualifying tournament. It will be their second appearance following 2011 in New Zealand when they lost all four pool games.

The deduction also means Germany replace Spain as the second ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship and they will play Portugal for the right to play-off against Samoa, with the play-off victor also joining Ireland in Pool A.

The qualification process had already sparked outrage after Spain's controversial loss to Belgium in the final round of the Championship.

"The rescheduled dates will enable the least-possible disruption for Samoa's European and Southern Hemisphere based players, who will be released under Regulation 9, which covers all Rugby World Cup qualifiers", a statement read.

The FER pointed to several errors by the referee, Romanian Vlad Iordachescu, during an 18-10 defeat in Brussels in which the official had to be protected from irate Spanish players as he left the field.

"Having considered all the evidence, including submissions from World Rugby, Rugby Europe, Spain and Belgium, the independent committee refused the request made by World Rugby and Spain to set aside the result of the match and determined that the match should not be replayed", the committee said in a statement.

Belgium, Romania and Spain were also given hefty fines, though suspended for five years.

"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".

"Regulation 8 covering eligibility is essential to maintaining the unique characteristics and culture of elite competitions between unions, and the integrity of worldwide matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation".

In the case of Romania, the committee said the union could have taken more steps to inquire as to the relevant player's eligibility with World Rugby.

A 14-day appeal window is now open if those involved to challenge the ruling.

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