The Independent Judicial Committee has confirmed the sanction on Spain rugby team being thrown out of the 2023 World Cup in France, for improper alignment of Gavin van den Berg.

South African born van den Berg played in two qualifying European Championship games for the world tournament.

IJCs Nigel Hampton, chairman, Pamela Woodman and Frank Hadden confirmed a 10-point deduction from selection and a £25,000 fine, along with a suspended £50,000 fine for previous eligibility breaches during World Cup 2019 qualifying stages.

Romania, ranked third in the preliminary phase after Georgia and Spain, will join Group B, with Portugal playing in the play-offs in November.

The Committee determines in its resolution that Van den Berg had not been resident in Spain for the necessary period of 36 months, before playing with the Spanish team on December 18, 2021 and February 5, 2022.

“The reasons for the 127-day period that you were outside of Spain in the first year of that 36-month period did not constitute sufficient ‘exceptional circumstances’ to allow you an exemption from being in Spain for at least 10 months in that year, as required by the Regulation 8.

“Therefore, Gavin van den Berg could not be selected or play,” said a statement.

“Apparently, the player’s club representatives had manipulated, without the knowledge of Spain or the player, the player’s passport travel stamps to make it appear that he had not been outside of Spain for more than two months (62 days).

“In that first year, in order to facilitate the player’s reclassification as a national player for the benefit of the club.

“However, despite the modified stamps, the player had been out of Spain for longer than allowed,” added the statement.

The Commission does not sanction Gavin van den Berg in view of the fact that it understands that the failures that caused his infringement were largely those of Spain by not putting in place the appropriate systems to check the documentation.

Spain has the right to appeal within 14 days of the full written decision and no further comments will be made until the process is complete.

 

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