Russian Federation qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 in place of Romania

Russia Rugby World Cup 2019

Russia will now face hosts Japan in the tournament opener next year Credit AFP

On Tuesday it was revealed the committee had discovered Spain fielded an ineligible player in eight qualification matches, while both Romania and Belgium did so on six occasions in the two-year process.

"In line with the decision, Russian Federation will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019 as Europe 1, joining Ireland, Scotland, Japan and the play-off victor in Pool A, while Germany will progress to the European play-off with Portugal, subject to the appeals process".

Russian Federation have qualified for next year's Rugby World Cup after Spain, Belgium and Romania were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest twist to a complicated and controversial series of matches as, following an investigation by the independent Judicial and Disputes committee, the three nations were docked five match points for each ineligible player used.

In reference to the entire investigation, the committee added: "Although mistakes were made by Rugby Europe and participating unions, they had not acted in bad faith".

"World Rugby Regulation 8 stipulates mandatory financial penalties for breaches of 25,000 pounds per ineligible player for a union not represented on the World Rugby Council and 100,000 pounds for a union represented on Council", the press release said.

Japan will play Russian Federation in the opening game of Rugby World Cup 2019 after Romania were essentially thrown out of the tournament for fielding an ineligible player during the qualifying process, World Rugby announced Wednesday.

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The unions of Spain, Belgium and Romania have a 14-day window in which to appeal against the panel's decision.

The victor on aggregate will qualify for Japan 2019 in Pool A, alongside the hosts, Ireland, Scotland and Russian Federation.

This will be the first World Cup Romania misses.

This year's Rugby Europe Championship was won by Georgia, who had already secured their place at the finals in Japan due to their third-place finish in the Pool phase of the 2015 tournament.

On the matter of the match between Spain and Belgium, World Rugby did state that: "the way in which Rugby Europe dealt with Spain's request for a change of match officials (in the build-up to the match) was not adequate".

It was seeking to improve the appointment of match officials, and work closer with national bodies on eligibility rules.

"The principle that "the referee's position as sole judge of fact and law during the match is unassailable" is a core principle of rugby, as is the very limited jurisdiction of a Disciplinary Committee to overturn the decisions of referees made on the pitch after the game", a World Rugby statement read.

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