Russian Federation qualify after Spain, Belgium and Romania sanctioned

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That prompted World Rugby to launch an investigation and during that probe, the independent disputes committee discovered that all three teams had selected players that they should not have.

Subsequently, Spain were docked 40 points with Romania and Belgium penalised 30 each - five points for every match in which an ineligible player appeared.

The change comes after an investigation led to three teams in the European qualifiers being deducted points.

In a controversial outcome to the highly vexed Rugby Europe qualification process for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, Russia have qualified for the 2019 tournament and will play in Ireland's group after Romania, Spain and Belgium were each docked points for repeatedly using ineligible players during the qualifying competition.

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"Subject to any appeal of the disputes committee's decision, the victor of the European playoff between Germany and Portugal, provisionally scheduled for June 9 will play Samoa home-and-away in the playoff to determine the final Pool A place".

"No further comment will be made while the 14-day appeal window is open". "We have imposed financial sanctions which are to be suspended for five years".

As a result all three countries have been disqualified and Russian Federation now take the automatic qualification spot with Germany also elevated to a play-off against Portugal for a chance to meet Samoa with the winners gaining a place in the tournament.

The victor on aggregate will qualify for Pool A, while the loser will progress to the repechage competition in November.

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"While the independent disputes committee has determined that mistakes were not made in bad faith by Rugby Europe and some participating unions, World Rugby is extremely disappointed with the unfortunate and avoidable events".

Spain's appeal to replay their match against Belgium, when a Romanian referee was in charge and Spain's shock defeat sent Romania through at their expense, was rejected, despite the sport's governing body supporting it. "The committee also recommended that World Rugby re-emphasise the importance and sanctity of Regulation 8 (eligibility) and any other steps that will prevent a repeat of these circumstances".

World Rugby insisted that players would be released for the two matches, however, and revealed that it would fund the country's entry into next month's Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji.

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