Romanian referee has to be escorted from the field after angry Spain's loss to Belgium hands Romania a World Cup place

Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify For RWC 2019

What could have been a momentous occasion descended into distressing scenes as Spanish rugby players confronted and attempted to grab Romanian referee Vlad Iordăchescu following their 18-10 loss to Belgium in the Rugby Europe Championship. A win for Spain would have seen Los Leones qualify automatically for Rugby World Cup 2019, but in losing that honour falls to Iordăchescu’s compatriots, Romania.

In the aftermath of the tight match in which some of the Spaniards felt tight calls went the way of the hosts, Iordăchescu had to be escorted from the pitch as players from the losing side surged towards him.

Spain’s scrum-half Guillaume Rouet is clearly seen trying to grab the referee while back-row Pierre Barthere is seen ironically clapping the match official, before the two sides come together in a melee.

The loss means that Los Leones must now play Portugal later in the year, in a decider to see who faces Samoa for a place at the World Cup in Japan in 18 months. If Spain win the first tie but lose the second, they will then go into a repechage with Canada, an African side and an Asia/Oceania side. If Spain go on to beat Samoa, they will be in Romania’s group at the World Cup.

Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify For RWC2019

Ironic clap: Pierre Barthere aims his gesture at the Romanian official (Getty Images)

Following this result, Spain captain Jaime Nava spoke to Radio Marca about any external factors in the result. He went on to say:  “I don’t want to think that rugby (has been pre-arranged) to put us out. When we were assigned Romanian officials, we were shocked. But this is rugby, the values are assumed.

“For sure, today rugby has lost.”

Related: Rugby was front page news in Spain

Nava did confront the ugly scenes, saying that: “I would like to apologise for what happened with the referee. The image at the end of the game does not represent the sport nor the values of this team. It must be understood however, we’ve lost part of our dream.”

There have been suggestions on social media that Spain had asked for a change in officials ahead of the game:

The appointment of match officials for this competition are handled by Rugby Europe, rather than World Rugby. It is understood that Rugby Europe will review the match, as is established practice, and only after any findings are made public may World Rugby comment.

Romania now head into Pool A at the World Cup, alongside hosts Japan, Six Nations champions Ireland, Scotland and whoever wins the final play-off place – which, as mentioned above, could be Spain.

Related: Ireland win Six Nations Grand Slam

Ugly Scenes As Spain Fail To Automatically Qualify For RWC2019

Sad sight: Players of Spain and of Belgium come together (Getty Images)

What makes this all the more noteworthy is that last week Romania boss Lynn Howells stepped down from his position when it looked like the Romanians would miss out on automatic qualification. After making the call, Howells said: “It was not an easy decision to take. The last five years have been very beautiful, there have been many years of beautiful sporting adventure with a beautiful team.

“I enjoyed working and co-ordinating a team that always wanted the victory and was always dedicated to the goal. I wish the team a lot of success, a further increase in the game and the best possible evolutions.”

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