World Rugby looking into controversial referee appointment

DUBLIN — World Rugby is looking into the appointment of a Romanian referee for a crucial match between Spain and Belgium that determined whether Romania qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Spain's surprising 18-10 loss in Brussels on Sunday meant Romania advanced to the World Cup through a second-place finish in the Rugby Europe Championship. Spain would have qualified with a win.

The referee for the match, Vlad Iordaschescu, had to be escorted from the field by security after Spain players angrily confronted him. The two assistant referees were also Romanian.

World Rugby, which does not appoint match officials for Rugby Europe Championship qualifiers, said Monday it has contacted Rugby Europe "to understand the context of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on Sunday."

All of Belgium's points came from penalty kicks.

The Spanish Rugby Federation has said it will file a complaint to tournament organizer Rugby Europe about the refereeing, and request video of the match be analyzed to check if decisions were "deliberately partial to favor the interests of Romania."

The Spanish federation had asked Rugby Europe to change the officials for the Belgium match because all three were Romanian. The federation said Patrick Roben, president of Rugby Europe's referees' commission, denied the request because the match appointments were done weeks in advance.

The head of Rugby Europe is a Romanian, Octavian Morariu.

Rugby Europe said in a statement Monday that it is waiting for an assessment report by the supervisor of the match officials for the Belgium-Spain game, and will devote a "large portion" of a tournament committee meeting on Friday to the "analysis of every stage of the Belgium v Spain game."

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