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Romania will miss the Rugby World Cup after being docked points

After a "remodelling" of the qualification process, Russian Federation emerged top to advance to next year's tournament in Japan.

Russian Federation have received a late call-up for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan after Romania were docked points for fielding ineligible players during the European qualifying tournament.

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.

"While the independent disputes committee has determined that mistakes were not made in bad faith by Rugby Europe and some participating unions, World Rugby is extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events".

A Romanian match official Vlad Iordachescu had been appointed to officiate at the match with Romania winning 18-0 and advancing to the Rugby World Cup pool stages.

But instead of vilifying the Spaniards, the committee revealed that Spain, Belgium and Romania had all fielded ineligible players during qualifying matches for the World Cup.

They are scheduled to play Japan in the tournament's opening match on September 20 next year at the Tokyo Stadium.

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Russian Rugby Union deputy chairman Kirill Yashenkov said it was "absolutely fair" his team qualified because other teams committed "grave violations of the rules".

"World Rugby notes the outcome of the independent disputes committee review into matters relating to the 2017 and 2018 Rugby Europe Championship, competitions that doubled as a Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification event", said a statement issued on Tuesday.

Romania had controversially edged Spain to Europe's final automatic spot, having leapfrogged them on the final day of the Rugby Europe Championship in March following the Spaniards' contentious defeat in Belgium.

It would have been much better for the game if Rugby Europe had, once the mathematics of the final matches of the competition become clear, changed the match officials.

Spain used Mathieu Belie and Bastien Fuster, who have both previously played for France Under-20s, in eight qualification matches, leading to a 40-point deduction and a 50,000 pounds suspended fine.

"The principle that "the referee's position as sole judge of fact and law during the match is unassailable" is a core principle of rugby, as is the very limited jurisdiction of a Disciplinary Committee to overturn the decisions of referees made on the pitch after the game", a World Rugby statement read.

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