Thursday, 19 July, 2018

Spanish rugby players given lengthy bans

Tourists at an outdoors bar in the historic centre of Malaga Luis Dafos Getty Images
Shannon Reynolds | 19 April, 2018, 01:04

Five Spanish players have been suspended for accosting the referee after their controversial 18-10 loss to Belgium in March.

There were calls from the Spanish to have the game replayed altogether, and World Rugby has suggested they were considering the possibility until it came to light that players from Spain, Romania, Russia and Belgium were all facing eligibility questions.

Spain lost out on the chance to qualify automatically for next year's finals after suffering defeat in that clash, though the players felt that a number of calls had unfairly gone against them over the course of the match - particularly it allowed Romania to take their place in the World Cup, and the referee as himself Romanian.

A Rugby Europe Independent judicial committee has sanctioned five players, including a 43-week ban handed to replacement back row Sebastien Rouet for physical abuse of a match official and verbal abuse.

Guillaume Rouet received a 36-week ban, while Pierre Barthere, Lucas Guillaume and Mathieu Belie got 14-week suspensions.

In a statement, the chief executive of the IRP, Omar Hassanein, said: "We support World Rugby's efforts to eradicate any perceived manipulation of fair play". Players have the right of appeal within 7 days of receipt of the written decision.

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A misconduct complaint against the Spanish Rugby Union was suspended and a hearing date will be set.

Portugal are due to play Spain for the right to face Samoa in a two-legged playoff, with the victor qualifying for the World Cup.

The punishments apply to all levels of rugby.

International Rugby Players welcomes World Rugby's decision to form an independent disputes committee to examine issues around the Rugby Europe competition.

"The players in this situation deserve better than this". He meets up with the national team captain and several local players.

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