The fallout from Spain’s loss to Belgium in the Rugby Europe Championship and the ensuing ugly scenes which marred the end of the game look set to continue with the news that the Spanish Rugby Federation has lodged a formal complaint to World Rugby.
Spain lost 18-10 to Belgium at the weekend which meant they did not qualify for the 2019 World Cup, instead, that result led to Romania qualifying for the World Cup at Spain’s expense. The referee for that game, Vlad Iordăchescu, is Romanian and as a result, Spain believes there was a conflict of interest.
World Rugby released a statement on Monday where they distanced themselves from the officiating and stated that Rugby Europe is in charge of choosing the officials for any particular game in the competition.
Statement: While World Rugby does not appoint match officials for the Rugby Europe Championship, it is in contact with Rugby Europe to understand the context of events relating to the Belgium v Spain match in Brussels on Sunday, which doubled as an important RWC 2019 qualifier.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 19, 2018
However, that hasn’t stopped the Spanish Rugby Federation from lodging a complaint to World Rugby. Spanish Rugby state that they requested for the officials to be changed 20 days before the game and they also cite how Marius van der Westhuizen was removed from being an official for Saturday’s clash between Ireland and England at Twickenham because the South African took part in an England training session the week building up to the fixture.
Here is the statement in full:
The Spanish Rugby Federation has presented on Tuesday a formal claim to World Rugby and Rugby Europe on the events that took place on the occasion of the Belgium – Spain match on Sunday 18 March. The claim bases the following arguments:
In the first place, there has been a violation of the principle of impartiality that must prevail in any sporting activity. The fact that the referee was Romanian having interests of the same Romanian Federation in the outcome of this meeting, breaks the required impartiality, since there is a conflict of interests that has not been respected.
In fact, the FER had requested 20 days before the meeting, once the interests of Romania were affected by the result of this game, the replacement of the three members. Application that was denied by Rugby Europe. The maintenance of the appointment of these arbitrators broke the guarantee of a transparent competition, leading to conflicts of interest, a circumstance that should be avoided in any sporting activity. The fact that the three arbitrators belonged to the Romanian Federation, some of them with positions of responsibility in the same, motivated the distrust on their impartiality. This simple suspicion should have been sufficient to assess the request of the Spanish Federation.
The law does not demand certainty, but fear of partiality, and in the case that we treat this way it was produced. In fact, on the previous Saturday a line judge of the England – Ireland match was substituted for less apparent reasons of bias than those in the case of the match we are dealing with.
Secondly, there has been a breach of the code of conduct established by World Rugby, since Regulation 20, in its appendix 1.7, establishes that no conduct or activity will be adopted inside or outside the field that could damage public confidence. in honesty and the regular conduct of a match. In the case we are dealing with, there were circumstances that did not guarantee this trust.
On the other hand, Regulation 18 6.1b of World Rugby allows that, if there has been a breach of the Statutes and / or regulations, there is the possibility of canceling the result of a match and / or the repetition of a match.
As evidence that the suspicion of alleged bias has been fulfilled, the FER has contributed a video in which 19 referee actions are collected during the course of the meeting in which it is clearly proven that the interests of the Spanish game during the encounter were harmed.
The FER trusts that World Rugby allows the repetition of the game since the image of rugby is being damaged by what happened in this match.