World Rugby investigates World Cup qualifier result

Ireland World Cup opponent decider leads to ugly scenes of referee confrontation

Rugby World Cup controversy as Spain lose out on automatic qualification after Belgium loss with Romanian referee… whose country make finals

On Sunday, Romania had to stand idly by and rely on Belgium to beat heavy favourites Spain for a place in the World Cup and a spot in pool A.

"We have lodged a complaint with the European federation, with a copy sent to the global federation, for the refereeing commission to review the video of the match and judge whether the refereeing was deliberately in favour of Romania", said a statement from the Spanish body.

Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu.

Spain would have qualified for the first time in 20 years with a win over Belgium but they were left angry by the decision to allow a Romanian referee and touch judges take charge of the defeat which meant Romania advanced to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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In their ninth consecutive World Cup, Romania will join Japan in Pool A along with Ireland, Scotland and the victor of a two-match playoff in June between Samoa and the runners-up of European qualifying.

Ugly scenes have marred the end of Spain's surprising 18-10 loss to Belgium in Brussels, with the referee having to be escorted from the field.

Spain will probably point to the decision by World Rugby to replace Marius van der Westhuizen as one of the assistant referees for the England v Ireland Six Nations clash on Saturday after he attended an England training session last week. Spain would have qualified with a win.

Romania now qualify for the 2019 event, after finishing second in the championship.

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He then offered his apologies to the ref for his side's actions, adding: "I am captain and I apologise for the persecution of the referee".

"It isn't just Spain who are the losers today", Spain coach Santiago Santos told LaLiga4Sports. Its agenda will be modified and a large portion of the meeting will be devoted to the analysis of every stage of the Belgium v Spain game. "He gave 10 penalties against us, the result comes from that", he posted on Twitter before the federation went on to lodge a formal complaint.

The federation said Patrick Roben, president of Rugby Europe's referees' commission, denied the request because the match appointments were done weeks in advance. "When we were trying to come back in the game the play kept on being interrupted".

"While we appreciate that this is a subject of high-emotion, it would be inappropriate to comment on match official performance before the usual full review has been undertaken", the organisation said.

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