The Spanish Rugby Federation has been slammed with a £25,000 fine and has been expelled from the 2023 Rugby World Cup after it was discovered that they fielded an ineligible player in the build-up to the tournament.
Spain disqualified from World Cup again for 'administrative mishap'
Spain will have to wait for their return to the Rugby World Cup after they have been disqualified for fielding an ineligible player in the qualifiers.
The investigation began after the Romanian rugby federation filed an appeal claiming that the Spanish side had called up and fielded an ineligible player.
After the suspicions were confirmed true Spain had five points retrospectively deducted from every match played with an ineligible player.
Following the announcement, World Rugby released a statement explaining the technicalities behind the decision and why the oversight will not be excused.
The statement says: "An independent judicial committee considering a potential breach of Regulation 8 (eligibility for a national team) has determined that Spain fielded an ineligible player during two Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification matches and has imposed a 10-point deduction and a financial sanction.
"In respect of the sanction, the independent committee, comprising Nigel Hampton QC (Chair), Pamela Woodman and Frank Hadden, imposed the following:
The deduction of five points for each of the two matches in which the ineligible player was fielded by the Spanish union (10 points in total). The committee imposed the fixed sanction of £25,000 and noted that a suspended sanction of £50,000 relating to a previous eligibility breach during qualification for Rugby World Cup 2019 would be payable.
"Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain, and Portugal will replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022."
The player in question is South Africa-born Gavin van den Berg who played for Spain under the new Rugby rules, which permit players to compete for other teams regarded they have stayed in the country for more than three years.
However, through the tenacious investigation of the Romanian Rugby Federation, it has now been alleged that Van den Berg forged some of his documents, and he was never eligible to play for Spain.
Reacting to the ruling, the Spanish Federation called the sanctions harsh and also said to expect further word on the issue in the coming days. Very few would be sympathetic with the Spaniards as they have been booted from their first World Cup since the turn of the millennium, but they had a similar issue in 2019.
After a tense qualifier against Belgium, an investigation was launched which resulted in the disqualification of Spain, Belgium and Romania after it was discovered that all three nations played with at least one ineligible player.
Four years down the line, it is the same story for the Spaniards, who will look to appeal this decision in the coming days.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will kick off on Friday, September 8, and the final will hold on October 28 2023.