Spain loses its appeal and remains excluded from the 2023 Rugby World Cup


FILE – Spain flanker Carlos Souto, center left, arms stiff Uruguayan winger Martin Ferres during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Spain and Uruguay in Galashiels, Scotland on Saturday 2 October 1999. An independent appeal committee has rejected Spain’s attempt to overturn a 10-point deduction which ruled them out of next year’s Rugby World Cup, World Rugby said on Monday 27 June 2022. Spain were trying to make their second World Cup appearance, and their first since 1999. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira, File)


Spain’s appeal to requalify for next year’s Rugby World Cup was rejected on Monday.

World Rugby says an independent appeals committee upheld a decision in April to disqualify Spain for fielding an ineligible player in two qualifying matches.

The governing body added that Spain no longer had the right to appeal, confirming that Romania replaced Spain at the Rugby World Cup in France.

The new evidence presented by the Spanish Rugby Federation in its appeal was considered by the committee but deemed inadmissible because the federation “did not sufficiently explain” why it was not available before the first hearing, and “it would not be not in the interests of justice to do so”. .”

“Some of the new evidence presented was not only incomplete, but contained allegations against the player and others relating to the alteration of a photocopy of a national identity document which was the subject of ongoing investigations by the appropriate competent bodies of Spanish jurisdiction,” the appeal committee said.

The case centered on South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who appeared as a substitute in two resounding wins for Spain over the Netherlands in 2021 and 2022 at the European Rugby Championship, who doubled in World Cup qualifying.

Romania complained to World Rugby that Van den Berg failed to comply with residency rules to live exclusively in Spain for three years before his national team debut. It was revealed that Van den Berg was out of Spain for 127 days and only completed two years.

Spain were deducted from the 10 points they earned from the two wins, knocking them out of qualifying position.

The Spaniards were also barred from qualifying ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup due to ineligible players, and the union was formally notified by World Rugby in May 2020 of their vetting process after requesting a retroactive eligibility check on the South African wing John. -Wessel Bell after his debut for Spain.

Part of Spain’s appeal alleged that Van den Berg was complicit with three members of his Alcobendas club in changing entry and exit dates on a photocopy of his passport.

The three plus Van den Berg are subject to ongoing disciplinary proceedings by the federation, which has also filed an ongoing criminal complaint with the Spanish public prosecutor’s office against the four for alleged passport falsification.

But the appeal committee was baffled by the lack of information in the federation’s “thorough investigations”.

The appeal committee agreed that the initial sanctions against Spain were “reasonable and appropriate”.


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