DUBLIN ( Associated Press) – Spain’s place in the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France is in doubt as it is being investigated for the field of an unsuitable player.
Spain qualified for its second Rugby World Cup on March 13, and first since 1999.
But World Rugby on Monday said it was convening an independent judicial committee to investigate a possible breach by Spain in Regulation 8 World Cup qualification, regarding a player’s suitability for international matches.
“World Rugby has been made aware of a possible offense concerning one member of the Spanish national men’s senior team,” it said in a statement. “After the initial inquiries have been completed, the international federation believes a formal independent review is justified. The Spanish Rugby Union fully cooperated through the initial inquiries. ”
The review is apparently about the South African-born front rider Gavin van der Berg. He made his debut on December 18 when Spain beat the Netherlands 52-7 in Amsterdam in the Rugby European Championship, which also doubled as a qualifying World Cup tournament. Van der Berg was a substitute in the second half and scored a try.
He was again a substitute in the second half on 5 February when the Netherlands was beaten 43-0 in Madrid.
Van der Berg arrived in Spain in 2018 and had to live there for three years to qualify for Spain with accommodation before his debut on 18 December. But he apparently returned to South Africa for four months in 2019 and went there again during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
If Spain is found guilty of violating regulation 8, he could lose at least the 10 competition points he won against the Netherlands. That would drop it from second to fourth in the European qualifiers and out of the Rugby World Cup. Romania could rather rise to second and automatic qualification, and Portugal could finish third and advance to the World Repetition Tournament in November.
This is the second consecutive World Cup rugby qualification that has involved Spain in controversy. In 2018, Spain, Romania and Belgium were penalized for bringing incompetent players into the field and Russia advanced to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
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