SPAIN has lost its appeal over its exclusion from the 2023 Rugby World Cup for twice fielding the same ineligible player in qualifying matches.

An independent judicial committee in April found that Gavin Van den Berg, who is of South African origin, had falsified his date of entry into Spain in order to comply with eligibility requirements.

He came on twice as a second-half substitute in two qualifying match victories.

The committee imposed a £25,000 fine over Van den Berg and said that a suspended penalty of £50,000 over 2019 qualification irregularities would also kick in.

Spain, as is their right, filed an appeal in May.

A World Rugby statement on Monday said “Following an appeal lodged by the Federacion Española de Rugby (FER), an Independent Appeal Committee has upheld the original decision of the Independent Judicial Committee relating to breaches of player eligibility during the European regional Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process.”

Speaking in late April, Spain Rugby Federation president, Alfonso Feijoo, said his federation was was ‘deceived’ by being given forged copies of Van der Berg’s passport, and that World Rugby and the European rugby federation also didn’t spot the irregularity.

Van der Berg arrived in Spain in 2018 and had to live in the country for three years to qualify on residency before making his debut.

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


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