Rugby World Cup 2023 update: Spain loses appeal against disqualification

Spain’s attempt to have their disqualification for violating player eligibility regulations overturned was unsuccessful, hence they will not be participating in the 2023 World Cup.

Spain was penalized points for fielding Gavin van den Berg in two qualification matches between 2021 and 2022, according to a statement released by World Rugby on Monday.

The Spaniards believed they had qualified for the tournament and would compete in Pool B together with Scotland, South Africa, Ireland, and an undetermined Asia/Pacific qualifier.

However, Spain’s withdrawal from the World Cup was confirmed by World Rugby in April as a result of a protest by Romania about the eligibility of Spanish player Gavin Van den Berg.

Spain has assessed a £25,000 fine and lost five points for each of the two qualifying contests Van den Berg participated in by the world governing body of the sport.

Van den Berg, a South African prop who played against the Netherlands in December of last year and the same opponents again in February of the following year, had not completed the required residency time.

It was discovered that a duplicate of his passport had been altered to make it appear as though he had spent more time during his residency period in Spain than in South Africa.

The South African-born prop didn’t fulfil the criteria of three years of continuous residency since he visited his homeland for a longer period of time than permitted by Regulation 8 during the break between domestic seasons.

Additionally, it was determined that “it would not be in the interests of justice to consider any new information,” in part due to the allegations made against the player and others regarding the alteration of a photocopy of a national identification document that was the subject of ongoing investigations.

Spain dropped from first place in the qualifying table, which is derived from the total results of the Rugby Europe Championship over two seasons, to fourth place as a result of those infractions, which cost them 10 points.

Spain’s appeal aimed to provide additional evidence that had not been considered at the original hearing, according to a statement issued on behalf of the independent appeal committee. However, the reason why the evidence was not available at the time was not sufficiently stated.

Van den Berg is still being looked at by Spain’s national sports disciplinary body and “may be subject to criminal punishment,” according to World Rugby’s written decision.

Romania would now qualify for Europe 2 in place of Spain and would be placed in Pool B. Additionally, Portugal would take the position of Romania in the Final Qualifying Tournament, which will be held in November 2022.

As of right now, Romania will join South Africa, Ireland, and Scotland in Pool B for the 2023 World Cup. Portugal will have one more chance to qualify for the tournament in the repackage phase later this year after coming close to beating Italy at the weekend but ultimately falling short 38-31.

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