Russian Federation into Rugby World Cup as Romania are disqualified

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Ireland rugby head coach Joe Schmdit will have to alter his 2019 World Cup preparations slightly after Romania were dumped out of the tournament.

An investigation set up by World Rugby found Romania, Belgium and Spain fielded ineligible players in seven to nine games in the second-tier Rugby Europe Championship, which also acted as a qualifying competition for next year's World Cup in Japan. That equated to 30 points for Romania and Belgium - who did it in six qualifying matches, and 40 for Spain, who broke the rules on eight occasions.

Romania, Spain and Belgium were all deducted points from the European qualifying tournament for fielding players that were not qualified to play, leaving Germany to play Portugal for the right to play Samoa in the playoffs, the victor of which joins, Japan, Ireland, Scotland and Russian Federation in Pool A in the World Cup, which kicks off September 20, 2019, at Tokyo's Ajinomoto Stadium.

The deduction also means Germany replace Spain as the second ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship and they will play Portugal for the right to play-off against Samoa, with the play-off victor also joining Ireland in Pool A.

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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".

As a result, Belgium were fined 125,000 pounds, suspended for a period of five years conditional that no breaches occur during that period.

Though Spain contested the eligibility charge weighed against them, the committee concluded that they were "satisfied that World Rugby's submissions on the fielding of ineligible players by Spain are correct".

It goes in as the Europe 1 qualifier in Pool A, joining Ireland, Scotland, and Japan.

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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 victor on aggregate will qualify for Pool A, while the loser will progress to the repechage competition in November.

In reference to the entire investigation, the committee added: "The Independent disputes committee determined that, although mistakes were made by Rugby Europe and participating unions, they had not acted in bad faith".

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