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Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

However, an independent committee found that the result should stand, although they also ruled that Spain, Belgium and Romania had fielded ineligible players during the qualifying tournament.

"Romania has fielded one ineligible player on eight occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which six matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying).while Spain had fielded one or more ineligible players on nine occasions during the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championships (of which eight matches related to Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying)".

The investigation was preceded by a match where Spain played Romania where if Spain lost - Romania - who were then in second place in the table behind Georgia - would qualify.

Spain had hoped for a reprieve, after a World Rugby investigation into the circumstances of their loss to Belgium, but the independent panel chose to dock all three teams points, subject to appeal.

A final team will be added following a play-off, with the winners of Germany and Portugal facing Samoa later this summer.

World Rugby insisted that players would be released for the two matches, however, and revealed that it would fund the country's entry into next month's Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.

The upshot is that Belgium and Romania have been hit with a 30-point deduction and Spain with a 40-point deduction.

Spain and Belgium have 14 days to appeal.

After all this was factored into a "remodelling" of the qualification process, Russian Federation emerged top to advance to next year's tournament in Japan at the expense of Romania.

World Rugby ordered a replay because it said although the Romanian match officials weren't biased, they gave the appearance of bias.

However, the match was marred by an incident following the match where Iordachescu was harassed by five Spanish players who were banned for their part in the post-match altercation. But in light of a number of complaints about ineligible players, World Rugby called for an emergency inquiry, which found that the result could not be overturned or annulled, because doing so "would undermine the respect to which decisions of referees are entitled, absent corruption or bad faith".

"Rugby Europe deeply regrets this situation, " the body said in a statement.

"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".

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