29 Mar, 2022 @ 13:45
1 min read

Winging it: Spain’s Rugby World Cup could be in doubt over allegations of ineligible player

Spain's Rugby World Cup appeal over expulsion from 2023 tournament is thrown out
Photo: Cordon press.

SPAIN could be disqualified from the Rugby World Cup after fielding a player who may have been ineligible.

Spain secured a World Cup spot for the first time since 1999 following a narrow victory over Portugal earlier this month.

World Rugby said in a statement: “We have been made aware of a potential breach concerning one member of the Spanish men’s senior team. Having concluded initial enquiries, the international federation believes a formal independent review is warranted as provided for by the World Rugby Regulations.”

A complaint was apparently filed by the Romanian rugby team, who missed out on automatic qualification after finishing just behind Spain in the group. 

They raised a complaint concerning Gavin van den Berg, who is of South African origin and who made his debut for Spain against the Netherlands in December.

Under the rules, in order to be eligible to play for Spain in an International, a player must qualify as a three year resident. 

Van der Berg reportedly arrived in Spain in 2018, and his debut was more than three years later in December 19. 

However, he reportedly returned to South Africa for four months during 2019, and went back there again during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The Spanish Rugby Federation said: “At the FER we are convinced that things have been done correctly and that is why we can only keep waiting for the resolution of the independent committee appointed by World Rugby.”

If found guilty, this would not be the first time Spanish rugby has fallen foul of rugby regulations.

In the 2019 world cup, Spain were docked points for fielding ineligible players.

An independent committee will be convened to establish whether Spain breached any rules and what the punishment should be if they are found guilty.


George Mathias

George is an NCTJ trained-journalist who moved from London to Spain's Costa del Sol and joined the Olive Press in February 2022. He has previous experience working at the Basingstoke Gazette and Reach. Contact him [email protected]

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