Spain have been disqualified from next year’s Rugby World Cup in France after fielding an ineligible player in two matches during the 2021-22 Rugby Europe Championship, the Spanish federation (FER) and World Rugby announced on Thursday.
Its disqualification means Romania qualify automatically in their place, while Portugal will go into a play-off for a place at the tournament. Spain had secured a World Cup berth for the first time since 1999, with a 33-28 win over Portugal in March to finish second in the Rugby Europe
Championship. It was the second time they had qualified for the World Cup, but World
Rugby, the sport’s governing body, launched an investigation after a complaint filed by Romania, who missed out on automatic qualification after finishing just behind Spain.
According to a source close to the FER, the investigation found that the date of entry into Spain on the passport of Gavin van den Berg, who is of South African origin, had been falsified to comply with eligibility requirements.
Later on Thursday, the FER said that — after meeting the general director of Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD), Albert Soler — it would file a complaint on Friday to the Prosecutors Office seeking a probe into an “alleged passport forgery”, adding that Spanish club Alcobendas Rugby are also under investigation.
Alcobendas told Reuters that “all those responsible have left the club”, including “members of staff and one player”. However, the club added that the player who had departed was not van den
Berg, who “left World Rugby’s hearing unpunished”. Alcobendas is expected to make a statement after a news conference scheduled by the FER and CSD for Friday, local time. (ABC Sports)