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Romania qualify for 2019 Rugby World Cup as Spain suffer shock loss to Belgium


Spanish players confronted Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu after the final whistle

Romania qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Spain suffered a shock 18-10 loss to Belgium, with ugly scenes marring the end of Sunday’s match.

Spain had looked set to qualify for the first time since 1999, but their defeat in Brussels handed Romania the automatic European qualifying spot.

Spanish players confronted referee Vlad Iordachescu, a Romanian, at the final whistle in their loss to Belgium.

“We weren’t allowed to play,” said Spain coach Santiago Santos.

“The referee kept stopping the game at every moment. Our game was stopped continuously, the Belgians benefited from many more decisions.

“The difference between penalties against us and for us was huge. When we were trying to come back in the game the play kept on being interrupted.”

Spain must now beat Portugal in a playoff to maintain any hopes of reaching the 2019 tournament in Japan, with the winner facing Samoa in a two-legged tie.

Rugby Europe issued a statement following the match clarifying its procedure for the selection of match officials.

“Referees’ appointments for the Rugby Europe Championship have been made ahead of the competition by an independent and neutral skilled committee,” it said.