Russia's World Cup hopes in tatters as World Rugby announce sanctions
Russia’s hopes of attending a second successive World Cup next year appears to be in tatters following a World Rugby statement issued on Tuesday [NZT].
In line with recommendations put forward by the International Olympic Committee [IOC], World Rugby have placed sanctions on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, as well as Belarus for its facilitation of the invasion.
As such, World Rugby have immediately suspended Russia and Belarus “from all international and cross-border club rugby activities until further notice”.
It has also suspended the Rugby Union of Russia “from World Rugby membership until further notice”.
“World Rugby reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus,” World Rugby’s statement reads.
“The global rugby family is united in standing in solidarity with everyone affected by these deeply disturbing events and joins the global community in calling for the restoration of peace.
“The World Rugby Executive Committee has today decided to take immediate additional steps to protect the rugby family and take a strong stance against the conflict in line with recommendations by the IOC:
- The full and immediate suspension of Russia and Belarus from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby activities until further notice
- The full and immediate suspension of the Rugby Union of Russia from World Rugby membership until further notice
“The decision has been taken with the interests of rugby’s values of solidarity, integrity and respect at heart.
“World Rugby also remains in contact with colleagues at the Ukraine Rugby Federation and has pledged its full support to the rugby community in the country.”
News of Russia’s suspended membership from World Rugby severely endangers their hopes of competing at next year’s World Cup in France, which they are yet to have qualified for.
Russia attended the 2019 World Cup in Japan after Romania, Spain and Belgium were all found guilty of fielding ineligible players during the qualifying process, but their chances of qualification for next year’s tournament now appear slim at best.
Russia, whose first World Cup appearance came in 2011, currently lie in fifth place in the Rugby Europe Championship, 15 points adrift from an automatic qualifying spot and 12 points astray from a berth in the Final Qualification Tournament.
That is all redundant, though, while their World Rugby membership remains invalid, especially after their two remaining qualifying fixtures against Georgia and the Netherlands were postponed by Rugby Europe last week.
Russia’s suspended membership from World Rugby will also prevent the country from competing on the World Sevens Series, as well as the Sevens World Cup, which will be held in Cape Town this September.
Neither of Russia’s men’s or women’s sevens teams are core members of the World Sevens Series, nor had they qualified for the Sevens World Cup, but neither team will feature in either event during Russia’s suspension.
Earlier on Tuesday, European Professional Club Rugby issued a statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, following the lead of Rugby Europe and World Rugby, both of whom released similar statements last week.
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