Spain have been ejected from next year’s Rugby World Cup in France after being found to have fielded an ineligible player in qualifying for the tournament.
A World Rugby Independent Judicial Committee found that South African-born prop Gavin Van den Berg appeared in two games for Spain when not yet eligible for his adopted nation on the grounds of a three-year residency period.
It is the second men’s tournament in a row that Spain have been disqualified from due to player eligibility issues.
The 2023 edition would have marked their first appearance at a men’s World Cup since 1999.
Spain have been fined £75,000, including having to pay a suspended sanction of £50,000 levied after the previous breach.
They have also been given a ten point deduction - five points for each of the two games played by Van den Berg - in the 2021-22 Rugby Europe Championship, knocking them out of the qualification places for the World Cup.
The deduction means that Romania will now take Spain’s place in France next year, joining Pool B alongside Scotland, Ireland, South Africa and an Asia/Pacific 1 qualifier.
Portugal progress to the repechage qualification process.
Describing the sanction as “very harsh”, the Spanish rugby federation suggested that the situation had occured due to an “alleged forgery of the player’s passport”.
During the last World Cup cycle, all of Spain, Romania and Belgium were deducted points having fielded ineligible players, allowing Russia to qualify for the tournament in Japan.