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Spanish Rugby Federation ramp up protest to World Rugby over controversial ref

By Online Editors
Ugly scenes during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Europe Qualifier match between Belgium and Spain held at Little Heysel next to King Baudouin Stadium on March 18, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

The Spanish Rugby Federation has made a formal complaint to World Rugby and sent a video with 19 disputed refereeing decisions, as they scaled up their protests over their Romanian referee who officiated in their 18-10 defeat to Belgium.


The loss denied Spain an automatic place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and their players surrounded the Romanian referee, Vlad Iordachescu after their loss.

There has been no little controversy over the choice of a Romanian referee in a match that directly affected Romania’s qualification for the Rugby World Cup, and questions have been raised as to how this situation was allowed develop by World Rugby.

It has led the the FER to call for the match to be replayed, in a strongly worded statement they said:

“Firsty there has been a violation of the principle of impartiality that must prevail in any sporting activity. The fact that the referee was Romanian having interests of the same Romanian Federation in the outcome of this meeting, breaks the required impartiality, since there is a conflict of interests that has not been respected.”

The FER revealed it had asked Rugby Europe to change the officials 20 days before the match, a request which was denied.

“The fact that the three arbitrators belonged to the Romanian Federation, some of them with positions of responsibility in the same, motivated the distrust on their impartiality. This simple suspicion should have been sufficient to assess the request of the Spanish Federation.”


The statement also cited the fact that World Rugby had changed Assistant Referee Marius van der Westhuizen for the Six Nations game between England and Ireland, after the South African had visited the English camp in the lead-up to the match.

“Secondly, there has been a breach of the code of conduct established by World Rugby, since Regulation 20, in its appendix 1.7, establishes that no conduct or activity will be adopted inside or outside the field that could damage public confidence. in honesty and the regular conduct of a match. In the case we are dealing with, there were circumstances that did not guarantee this trust.”

“On the other hand, Regulation 18 6.1b of World Rugby allows that, if there has been a breach of the Statutes and / or regulations, there is the possibility of canceling the result of a match and / or the repetition of a match.”

“As evidence that the suspicion of alleged bias has been fulfilled, the FER has contributed a video in which 19 referee actions are collected during the course of the meeting in which it is clearly proven that the interests of the Spanish game during the encounter were harmed.”


“The FER trusts that World Rugby allows the repetition of the game since the image of rugby is being damaged by what happened in this match.”


In the driving seat with a game in hand over Romania, Spain needed to defeat Belgium in the final round of European qualification matches to confirm their participation at a Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1999.

However, Belgium raced into a 15-0 lead and, despite a late fightback, Los Leones could not finish the job off, losing 18-10, meaning they will now face the play-off route.

It was on the final whistle however that Spain’s players surrounding the referee, who had to be protected by the Belgium players before being escorted off the pitch.

World Rugby have already released a statement stating: “While World Rugby does not appoint match official for the Rugby Europe Championship, it is in contact with Rugby Europe to understand the context of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on Sunday, which doubled as an important RWC 2019 qualifier.

Romania will face Ireland, Scotland, hosts Japan and the Play-Off winner in Pool A.

Reward also comes in the form of playing Japan in the opening match at the Toyota Stadium on 20 September, 2019.

Despite the loss, Spain are confirmed as the second-placed team in European qualification and must now play Portugal for the right to play Samoa in home and away fixtures.

The winner on aggregate will join Romania in Pool A as the Play-Off winner, while the loser will participate in the four-team Repechage in November against Canada.


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