Spain continue fight against 'excessive' Rugby World Cup exclusion


The Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) announced on Monday that it was filing an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to rescind its exclusion from the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The FER said the ruling, which was upheld by World Rugby last month, on the grounds that they fielded an ineligible player during qualifying was "excessive" and the result of a "deception" in which it was the victim.

The management committee, which is running the federation following the resignation of its president Alfonso Feijoo, "has decided to appeal to CAS concerning the sanction imposed" by the judicial committee of World Rugby.

After securing their place at the World Cup, it emerged that South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018 and featured in two qualifiers against the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021, was deemed not to have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

At the end of April, an independent judicial commission imposed a fine of 25,000 pounds (nearly 30,000 euros) on the Spanish federation and deducted points for the two matches, taking them out of a qualifying position.

Romania have provisionally taken Spain's place while Portugal have taken the spot vacated by Romania in the final qualification event taking place in November.

After World Rugby rejected their initial appeal, the Spanish federation has decided to go to CAS in view of what it considers to be "an excessive sanction and a consequence a deception suffered by the FER itself".

On May 26, the FER expelled van den Berg's club Alcobendas on the grounds that three members of the club falsified the dates of entry and exit from Spain on the player's passport so that he could fulfill the criteria of eligibility.

It is the second time that Spain have missed out on World Cup qualification on these grounds.

In 2018, along with Romania and Belgium, they were were sanctioned for fielding ineligible players, paving the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.