World Rugby to review Spain and Belgium qualifier

Match was marred by controversy over performance of Romanian referee

Spanish players protest to Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu (left) after losing the 2018 Rugby Europe Championship match against Belgium in Brussels. The Spanish Rugby Federation has officially asked to replay the match. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

Spanish players protest to Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu (left) after losing the 2018 Rugby Europe Championship match against Belgium in Brussels. The Spanish Rugby Federation has officially asked to replay the match. Photograph: Olivier Hoslet/EPA

 

World Rugby is to set up an emergency dispute committee to review the controversial World Cup qualifier between Spain and Belgium.

Belgium won the Rugby Europe International Championship game 18-10, meaning Romania qualified for the World Cup at Spain’s expense, but the presence and performance of Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu infuriated Spain.

A World Rugby statement on Thursday read: “World Rugby was deeply concerned about the process and perception of Rugby Europe’s appointment of a match official team that was not neutral in the context of qualification. The World Rugby Executive Committee and Rugby World Cup Board felt that a replay would be in the best interests of the game.

“Since expressing that view, new information relating to player eligibility has been presented to World Rugby by the participating unions. Given this information concerns potential breaches of World Rugby regulations, and given the complexity and interconnectivity of the issues, a full and independent review is warranted.

“World Rugby’s independent judicial panel Chairman Christopher Quinlan QC has been asked to form and convene the disputes committee on an emergency basis in order to achieve certainty as soon as possible.”

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