— Published 29 April 2022

Spain excluded from the 2023 World Cup in France

Same cause, same effect. For the second time in a row, Spain has been excluded from the Men’s Rugby World Cup. World Rugby announced on Thursday 28 April that the Spanish team has been excluded from the 2023 World Cup in France for having used an ineligible player on two occasions in the qualification phase. Gavin van den Berg (pictured above), a South African-born prop, was fielded twice against the Netherlands in 2020 and 2021. Both times Spain won. The only problem was that he had not completed the three years in Spain without a break of more than 60 days, a condition required by World Rugby to wear the national jersey. The Spanish daily Marca reports that Gavin van den Berg has been in South Africa since 2018, the year he made his debut for the Spanish national team, but he has allegedly hidden the truth by presenting the Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) with a document bearing a forged customs stamp. The independent committee appointed by World Rugby to investigate the case has sanctioned Spain with a 10-point deduction and a fine of £25,000 (around €30,000). The Spanish Federation has two weeks in which to lodge an appeal. Spain’s exclusion opens the door to Romania’s participation in the 2023 World Cup. Portugal, meanwhile, would inherit Romania’s place in the final qualifying tournament in November 2022. In 2018, Spain, Romania and Belgium were already sanctioned for using ineligible players, allowing Russia to participate in the 2019 World Cup in Japan.