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Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

16 May 2018

Russian Federation will be among Scotland's opponents at next year's Rugby World Cup following an independent disciplinary process that has booted Spain, Belgium and Romania out of the competition for having fielded ineligible players in qualifying tournaments over the past two years.

Following a review by an independent disputes committee into matters relating to the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championship, competitions that doubled as a Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification event, World Rugby docked the three nations five match points every time ineligible players were used. A final team will be added following a play-off, with the winners of Germany and Portugal facing Samoa later this summer.

It will be their second appearance following 2011 in New Zealand when they lost all four pool games.

World Rugby had originally meant to make Spain and Belgium replay that match - which was refereed by Romanian Vlad Iordachescu - but following counter-claims of eligibility infractions, commissioned an independent disputes committee to look into the matter.

The Romanians had topped the group the took the automatic qualifying place with Spain finishing second for a play-off spot.

Romania have said they will appeal against the decision, which comes following a remarkable sequence of events in which the father of the England internationals Billy and Mako Vunipola has been embroiled and kills off Spain's hopes of a reprieve after their controversial defeat by Belgium in March - an independent committee review ruled the result will stand.

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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.

"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.

There is a 14-day window for appeals by all parties. "We have imposed financial sanctions which are to be suspended for five years".

World Rugby also announced that the rescheduling of Samoa's Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification matches.

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".

Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned