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The latest news from World Rugby again narrates dysfunction within the global rugby community. This time, the governing body decided to exclude three European nations - Belgium, Spain, and Romania - from continuing to qualify for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
The reason given was multiple team player ineligibility, resulting in sanctions from World Rugby and the subtraction of points.
Also, the decision reflected World Rugby's concern over the recent, and controversial, European Championship to qualify for that RWC Europe 1 slot. World Rugby 's official statement of reasons; "This will include the Rugby Europe's organization’s eligibility processes and match official appointments in order to prevent a repeat of these unfortunate events." That "event" was the final of the qualifier for the Europe 1 when point’s leader Spain lost to lowest place Belgium with a Romanian referee. The loss boosted second place Romania into the RWC qualifying slot.
Instead it will be Russia appointed to the RWC 2019 Europe 1 position where they will join Ireland, Scotland, and Japan in Pool A. A fifth and final Pool A team will come from a playoff that will pit the winner of Germany versus Portugal with Samoa. The Samoa matchup will be a two-match affair with cumulative points determining the winner.
Assume Samoa goes though, then Germany and Portugal will have one last opportunity to qualify in a November 2018 repechage along with other nations, which could be Canada, China, Hong Kong, Kenya, Namibia, etc. for the final RWC slot.
Romanian fans that already booked tickets and travel to Japan will receive refunds.
As a reminder, the four RWC pools are:
A - Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia, Playoff Winner (Probably, Samoa)
B - New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1 (Kenya or Namibia), Repechage Winner
C - England, France, Argentina, Tonga, USA
D - Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, Uruguay