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Spain quintet banned after abusing referee

 

By Adam McKendry

Five Spanish players have been handed large bans by Rugby Europe after confronting Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu following their World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium.

In all, the five players have been handed a combined 121-week ban, with scrum-half Sebastien Rouet receiving the largest of those, a 43-week suspension for physical and verbal abuse of a match official.

Another scrum-half, Guillaume Rouet, received 36 weeks for the same offence, while the remaining players - flankers Pierre Barthere and Lucas Guillaume, and fly-half Mathieu Belie - have been given 14 weeks for threatening actions/words towards a match official.

Spain would have qualified for the World Cup ahead of Romania had they defeated Belgium, but instead they lost 18-10, leading to the players protesting angrily at Iordachescu for the number of penalties given against them.

Spain had lodged a complaint to World Rugby on the grounds that Iordachescu was "not neutral in the context of qualification", but rugby's governing body ruled out the possibility of a replay earlier this month.

However, there is still a review to be carried out into the eligibility of players who featured in the Rugby Europe competition, the outcome of which is still to be revealed.

Spain could still reach next summer's World Cup through a two-legged play-off in June against Samoa.

Santiago Santos' side face Portugal for the right to take part in that play-off, with the winners taking the last place in Ireland's group for the finals in Japan.

Belfast Telegraph

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