Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification: the Farce that Keeps on Giving
This follows the fall-out from the Belgium v Spain qualifier in March, won by Belgium thanks in no small part to the refereeing performance of Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu, a result which conveniently meant that Romania qualified for the World Cup finals.
Whilst an independent enquiry somewhat incredibly ruled that the result of the Belgium v Spain match should stand, a separate emergency enquiry was launched into the alleged fielding of ineligible players in qualifying matches.
The outcome – with Romania, Spain and Belgium all sanctioned by World Rugby for breaching the eligibility rules – means that Russia, who finished in third place in the qualification table, now qualify and will contest the opening match of the 2019 World Cup against Japan. Meanwhile Germany, who finished fifth, will now play off against Portugal for the dubious pleasure of facing Samoa to qualify.
All subject to appeal, naturally.