LONDON - Romania and Spain will not participate in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan after an independent committee on Wednesday upheld their disqualification from the tournament for fielding ineligible players.
The two countries appealed the penalties after an independent investigation on May 15 found that they, along with Belgium, breached World Rugby’s rules by fielding players who did not meet eligibility criteria during the European qualifying tournament.
Russia will take Romania’s place in World Cup Pool A, while Germany will take Spain’s place in a match against Portugal on June 16 for the right to meet Samoa in a two-leg playoff to determine the final spot in Pool A.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said the international body will conduct a “full review” to prevent a reoccurrence of the controversy that has marred the buildup to the first World Cup to be held in Asia.
“While World Rugby welcomes the conclusion of the independent disputes process, it is important that the game learns from what were an unfortunate set of circumstances to prevent this from happening again, and I am committed to leading a review that will deliver a robust and efficient system of ensuring compliance,” Beaumont said.
Tongan-born Sione Faka’osilea was found to have played in six of Romania’s eight European qualifiers despite being ineligible. Romania had reportedly admitted to the finding but appealed against the severity of the penalty.
Spain had appealed against a finding that it fielded two ineligible players during qualifying.