Russia given World Cup place as Romania penalized for ineligible player
Russia will play at the World Cup next year after Romania, Spain and Belgium were all penalised for including ineligible players in the Rugby Europe Championship, which acts as the qualification tournament.
Romania have said they will appeal against the decision. Sione Faka’osilea was fielded in 8 games including 6 qualifiers for the World Cup – despite having represented Tonga. Romania’s defence included an email from Fe’ao Vunipola, the acting chairman of the Tonga federation, which stated the player in question was eligible to play for Romania. The committee accepted that both parties had acted in good faith but chose to dock Romania 30 points – five for each match played in qualifying.
Russia had originally finished in third place in the qualification table, behind Romania and Spain, but advance in top spot while Germany, who were sitting in fifth and final place, move up to second and will face a playoff against Portugal – the winner of which will play Samoa. Russia last competed at the World Cup in 2011 but will now contest the opening match of the 2019 tournament against the hosts Japan.
How Russia Qualified
Russia were the highest ranked team from the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia who qualified automatically).
Key Players for Russia
Talking about his Enisei side in 2016, Yuri Kushnarev told RW: “Everyone should be scared, we are Russian soldiers with big rockets!” The fly-half and former Northampton wing Vasily Artemyev are important figures. Openside Tagir Gadzhiev is one to watch.