Five Spain players have been banned for confronting the referee after they lost to Belgium 18-10 in March

Five Spain Players Banned After Loss To Belgium

Five Spain players have been given bans for confronting Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu after their controversial 18-10 loss to Belgium in March.

A Rugby Europe Independent Judicial Committee met on Tuesday 17 April to discuss the actions of the Spanish players at the final whistle. The bans vary in severity with scrum-half Guillaume Rouet and substitute Sebastian Rouet receiving the heaviest sanctions; they were banned for 36 and 43 weeks respectively.

Both men were found guilty of physical and verbal abuse of a match official.

Three other players – flankers Pierre Barthere and Lucas Guillaume, and fly-half Mathieu Belie – all received 14-week bans. They were found guilty of verbally threatening the match official.

The bans are effective immediately and cover all rugby activities. They have seven days to appeal the decision.

Related: Eligibility Controversy in World Cup 2019 Qualifying

Five Spain Players Banned

Confrontation: Spain and Belgium push and shove one another (Getty Images)

The confrontations occurred after the final whistle of the defeat by Belgium, which meant Spain missed out on automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, with Romania taking that spot. Instead, Spain would go into a play-off against Portugal, with the winners then facing Samoa.
Spain captain Jaime Nava did address the ugly scenes after the match, saying: “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.”

World Rugby has said it “was deeply concerned” by the decision to appoint Romanian officials for the Spain-Belgium match given that the outcome affected Romania’s World Cup qualification and was due to order a replay.

However, the fact the eligibility of certain players who appeared in the Rugby Europe Championship has been called into question has become an even bigger issue. World Rugby has launched an investigation into that before making any decisions on sanctions.

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