The Spanish Rugby Federation (FER) filed an appeal with the Administrative Court for Sport (TAS) on Monday concerning its exclusion from the 2023 World Cup in France, which it considers “excessive» and following a «deceptionof which she was a victim. The management committee, at the head of the FER following the broadcast of its president Alfonso Feijoo, “has decided to appeal to the CAS regarding the sanction imposedby the Legal Committee of the International Rugby Federation (World Rugby).
After securing their World Cup qualification in France by finishing second in Europe Zone qualifying behind Georgia, Spain were subsequently ruled out for twice fielding South African prop Gavin van den Berg against the Netherlands (victories 43-0 in 2020 and 52-7 in 2021) during the Six Nations B Tournament, qualifier for the World Cup. He had not resided in Spain for three years without a break of more than 60 days, a necessary condition to be eligible for the country, according to World Rugby regulations.
An independent legal commission had imposed at the end of April on the Spanish Federation a fine of 25,000 pounds (nearly 30,000 euros) and a deduction of points for its national team, therefore not qualified. The Spanish Rugby Federation has therefore decided to file an appeal with the CAS “given what it considers to be an excessive sanction resulting from a deception suffered by the FER itself“. On May 26, FER expelled Alcobendas, van den Berg’s club, on the grounds that three members of the club falsified the dates of entry and exit from Spain on the player’s passport so that he could fulfill the criteria of eligibility.
In the wake of Spain’s exclusion, FER president Alfonso Feijoo announced his resignation. Spain had already been eliminated from qualifying for the previous World Cup in 2019 after a contentious match against Belgium, marked by numerous expulsions. Pending the verdict of its appeal, Romania has been drafted and will appear in Group B with South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and a fifth nation to be determined. Portugal will be able to take part, instead of Romania, in the final qualifying tournament organized in November 2022.