Romania’s national rugby team has been disqualified from the World Cup in Japan next year after a historic decision of the World Rugby.
Qualified to every edition of the World Cup, including next year’s edition to be hosted by Japan, Romania’s rugby team has been dealt a heavy blow from World Rugby, the international governing body in the field. World Rugby announced that, in light of an analysis conducted by its independent disputes committee, Romania, Spain and Belgium have been deducted points for fielding ineligible players in the qualifying tournament in the run-up to next year’s World Cup.
Regulation 8 covering eligibility is essential to maintaining the unique characteristics and culture of elite competitions between unions, and the integrity of international matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation, World Rugby writes in an online statement. According to the international body, Romania used an ineligible player from Tonga in eight matches this season, six of which were in the qualification campaign for the 2019 World Cup. As a result, Romania was deducted 5 points for each game the player was used. Russia will replace Romania while Germany will take the place of Spain in the European playoff for the qualification to the World Cup.
The Romanian Rugby Federation says it will attack the decision, claiming that it sent World Rugby all the necessary documents attesting the eligibility of the player in question ever since 2015. Moreover, the Federation says the player signed a statutory declaration which confirms he never played for his country’s national team. The Romanian Rugby Federation says it observed the verification procedure to the letter, as stipulated by World Rugby regulations, in the case of each foreign player in order to clear them as eligible for the national team.
Although it does not enjoy the reputation of Romania’s rugby team in the 80s, a time when the country took on the world’s superpowers, Romania’s rugby team does have several important achievements, such as winning this year’s edition of Rugby Europe Championship, a competition devoted to lower-tier teams from Europe. In the absence of proper funding that should ensure its future development, Romanian rugby continues to feature quality players that are enjoying success in Europe’s top championships. Ever since the 1990s, Romanian rugby players have been playing for teams in Italy, England and France.