World Rugby slams ‘rather despicable’ Spain after being kicked out of next year’s Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible player in a ‘tampering’ storm
- Spain were kicked out of the Rugby World Cup and replaced by Portugal
- Spanish officials were devastated by last month’s decision by World Rugby
- A written decision from World Rugby revealed the reasons for the decision
- The sport’s governing body expelled Spain for fielding an ineligible player
World Rugby has described the series of events that led to Spain being kicked out of next year’s World Cup in France as “pretty despicable”.
The Spaniards were found guilty last month of fielding an illegible player whose passport was tampered with so he could be selected for residency reasons.
South African prop Gavin van den Berg made two appearances against the Netherlands in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Van den Berg – who plays for Madrid club Alcobendas – was unaware that his passport had been tampered with.
Spain qualified for the Rugby World Cup but were sent off for fielding an ineligible player
Concerns over Gavin Van den Berg’s eligibility have been raised by the Romanian Rugby Federation
Spain finished second in the European Rugby Championship to secure a place at France 2023 and what would have been their first World Cup in 24 years.
But World Rugby’s investigation into Van den Berg found he had not been a Spanish resident for the 36-month period required to play for his adopted country.
A 10 point deduction and a £25,000 fine plus World Cup expulsion were Spain’s punishment. They will be replaced by Portugal for next year’s tournament.
On Thursday, World Rugby released a comprehensive written decision which criticized Spain’s less than vigilant attitude towards the sport’s eligibility laws.
The written decision states: “Representatives of the player’s club had apparently, without the knowledge of Spain or the player, forged travel stamps in the player’s passport to make it appear that the player had not been released. of Spain for more than two months in this first year to facilitate the reclassification of the player as a national player.
Spanish rugby officials have been devastated by World Rugby’s decision, taken last month
“However, notwithstanding the altered stamps, the player had been out of Spain for longer than the permitted period.
“The machinations revealed by the apparent tampering are quite despicable and reflect very poorly on those who may have played a role in such events.
“The three allegedly complicit club officials refused to testify.
“The committee further expressed concerns that the union does not appear to have an appropriate process in place to review the movements of players who relied on residency to qualify.
Spain celebrated qualifying before being kicked out of the tournament by World Rugby
“The committee noted that the union had been sanctioned in the past for selecting ineligible players and, in these circumstances, expected the union to put in place rigorous processes to ensure that each player’s situation had been carefully considered before being selected.
“The committee further noted its displeasure with the union not asking for confirmation of the player’s eligibility before selecting the player to represent the union.”
Spain has the right to appeal the full written decision within 14 days, but they are unlikely to do so.