Romania's World Cup participation in jeopardy
NEWS: Romania's participation at the 2019 Rugby World Cup is in jeopardy, after a complaint from the Russian Rugby Federation over an alleged ineligible player being used in a qualifier between the sides.
Only last week Tahiti were kicked out of World Cup qualifying by World Rugby over the fielding two ineligible players.
Local media in Russia have queried the fielding of Romania centre Sione Faka'osilea, citing that the Tonga-born centre represented the country of his birth at Sevens.
Faka'osilea, who plays his club rugby in Romania for Baia Mare, has played 13 Tests for the country, notably during the Rugby Europe Championship, which acts as a qualifying tournament for the Rugby World Cup.
"The issue was considered today at the meeting of the Board. We consider it absolutely unacceptable to blame anyone prior to a thorough investigation by the competent authorities of Rugby Europe and World Rugby, so we will send relevant inquiries to these organizations in the near future," said Pavel Bugrov in a statement on the Russia Rugby Federation website.
On World Rugby's website it clarifies the one-Union rule in Regulation 8.2:
"A Player is only entitled to play Rugby Union for the senior or next senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the senior National Representative Sevens Team of one Union (provided that, in the case of the senior National Representative Sevens Team, for tournaments other than the Olympic Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens, the Player had reached the age of twenty on or before the date of participation representing that one Union). Accordingly, if a Player is deemed to have played in such circumstances, even if he is able to satisfy one or more of the eligibility criteria set out in Regulation 8.1, he will not be able to play for any other Union. Consistent with the overall rationale underlying the eligibility Regulations, the one Union only rule is designed to maintain the integrity of the international Game. Once a Player has committed himself to a particular Union, through participation in one of the Matches or Tours in the circumstances identified in Regulations 8.3 or 8.4, he is unable to change his "Rugby Nationality" which becomes fixed."
Russia finished fourth in the Rugby Europe Championship to end their hopes of participating in Japan, while Romania secured an automatic spot with their second-placed finish.
However third-placed Spain have already complained to World Rugby over the controversial performance of Romanian officials during their 10-18 qualifying defeat to Belgium, a result which directly affected Romania's participation at the World Cup.
As it stands Romania will face Ireland, Scotland, hosts Japan and the Play-off winner in Pool A of the World Cup.
They will also play Japan in the opening match at the Toyota Stadium on September 20, 2019.
Last week World Rugby overturned Tahiti's 13-9 win over Cook Islands in a Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifier, due to Tahiti fielding two ineligible players, the French-born duo Guillaume Brouqui and Andoni Jimenez. Brouqui scored a try in the game, while Jimenez had kicked a penalty – but both fell foul on residency grounds, with neither player being able to prove sufficiently that they met World Rugby's criteria.
Cook Islands will now face the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship home and away, beginning with a match in the Cook Islands on June 30 and the return leg on July 7.