Scotland are now set to face Russia in next year’s Rugby World Cup after Romania were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player.
Spain and Belgium have also been penalised for similar offences, meaning three out of five nations in the final round of European qualifying have been disqualified, subject to appeal.
It looked like Romania had secured the Europe 1 berth which would see them join hosts Japan, Scotland and top seeds Ireland in Pool A, until World Rugby’s ruling. The decision also affects the remaining slot to be filled in the Scots’ group, which will be decided by a play-off between the second-placed European team and Samoa, third in Oceania.
Germany and Portugal will now play off for the right to face the Samoans.
A World Rugby statement read: “While the independent disputes committee has determined that mistakes were not made in bad faith by Rugby Europe and some participating unions, World Rugby is extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events. Regulation 8 covering eligibility is essential to maintaining the unique characteristics and culture of elite competitions between unions, and the integrity of international matches depends on strict adherence to eligibility criteria set out in the regulation.”