Rugby World Cup 2023: Spain lose appeal against disqualification - what it means for Scotland

Spain have lost their appeal against a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player and will not take part in the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

Romania will take Spain's place in Pool B at Rugby World Cup 2023.  (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Romania will take Spain's place in Pool B at Rugby World Cup 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Spaniards thought they had qualified and would play in Pool B in next year’s tournament alongside Scotland, South Africa, Ireland and an Asia/Pacific qualifier yet to be determined.

However, in April World Rugby announced that Spain would not be going to the World Cup following a complaint from Romania about the eligibility of Spanish player Gavin Van den Berg.

The South African-born prop did not complete the requirements of three years consecutive residency because he returned to his home country in between domestic seasons for longer than is allowed under Regulation 8.

The game’s global governing body fined Spain £25,000 and deduct five points for each of the two qualifying games in which Van den Berg played.

It meant Romania replacing Spain as the Europe 2 qualifier and going into Pool B. It also meant Portugal replacing Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament which takes place in November 2022.

Spain appealed but is has been dismissed by an independent appeals body. There is no further right of appeal.

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Spain will not be at next year's Rugby World Cup. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

A statement from World Rugby said: “The Independent Appeal Committee reviewed the original decision of the Independent Judicial Committee based on the evidence that was before it. Having considered detailed submissions from the Spanish Union and World Rugby, the Independent Appeal Committee dismissed the appeal.

“In accordance with World Rugby regulations, the decision of the Independent Appeal Committee is final and binding with no further right to appeal.

“With respect to Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 European qualification table by the Independent Judicial Committee stands, meaning that Romania qualifies as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain, and Portugal replaces Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022.”

Scotland will play Romania in their third Pool B match, in Lille on 30 September 2023.

Spain submitted new evidence to the appeal in support of Van den Berg’s eligibility but the committee decided not to admit it for two reasons:

“1. it determined that the Spanish Union had not adequately explained why this evidence was unavailable on reasonable enquiry ahead of the original hearing; and

“2. in any event it would not be in the interests of justice to do so after having regard for all of the circumstances, including consideration that part 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 that was subject to ongoing investigations by the appropriate competent bodies in the Spanish jurisdiction.”

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