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World Rugby investigating Spain for player eligibility breach

World Rugby is set to convene an independent judicial committee to determine whether Spain breached player eligibility rules during the 2021-22 Rugby Europe Championship that gave them a World Cup spot, the governing body said on Monday (Mar 28).

Spain secured a World Cup berth for the first time since 1999 with a 33-28 win over Portugal earlier this month to finish second in the Rugby Europe Championship.

"World Rugby was made aware of a potential breach concerning one member of the Spanish men's senior team. Having concluded initial enquiries, the international federation believes a formal independent review is warranted as provided for by the World Rugby Regulations," the body said in a statement.

A source close to the Spanish team told Reuters that Romania, who missed out on automatic qualification for the World Cup by finishing third behind Spain, had filed the complaint.

The source added that the player in question was Gavin van den Berg, who is of South African origin and made his debut for Spain against the Netherlands in December.

The Spanish rugby federation said: "At the FER we are convinced that things have been done correctly and that is why we can only keep waiting for the resolution of the independent committee appointed by World Rugby."

It did not confirm the identity of the player.

Romania could still qualify for the World Cup by winning the final qualification tournament being held in November 2022.

Spain were docked points for repeatedly fielding ineligible players in the qualifying tournament for the 2019 World Cup.

Source: Reuters/ga

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