Romania kicked out of Rugby World Cup in major controversy

Mitch Phillips

Romania has lost its spot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup after it was docked qualifying points for repeatedly using ineligible players.

World Rugby said it has modified the qualification results and Russia has now emerged top to take Romania's place and advance to next year's tournament in Japan.

It will be their second appearance following 2011 in New Zealand when they lost all four pool games.

Belgium and Spain were also penalised for using ineligible players, with the three nations docked five match points for each player used that shouldn't have been.

Germany, who have never been in a World Cup, now have another chance as they are promoted to face Portugal in a playoff, though the winners face a daunting final step with a two-legged playoff against Samoa.

Romanian players aren't happy. Image: Getty

The winner on aggregate will qualify for Japan 2019 in Pool A, alongside the hosts, Ireland, Scotland and Russia. The loser will still have a chance of progress via the Repechage competition in November.

All the decisions are subject to appeal within 14 days and Romania said they would seek to overturn the committee's ruling.

"The Romanian Rugby Federation (FFR) cannot accept a decision in which teams that knowingly violate regulations or ignorance are treated identically to those who comply with all procedural steps required," the FFR said in a statement.

"Participation in the World Cup must not be concluded by such a decision."

The Russian Rugby Federation, however, said the sanctions were fair.

"I am very glad that our arguments were heard because the federations of Romania, Belgium and Spain committed grave violations of the regulations, allowing these players (to take part in the qualifiers)," the federation's deputy chairman Kirill Yashenkov said.