Spain have been kicked out the 2023 Rugby World Cup after they were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in two outings of their qualifiers.

The decision dock 10 points away from Spain means the Spanish miss out on playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1999.

A disciplinary panel appointed by World Rugby ruled that the South Africa-born prop Gavin van den Berg played for Spain in qualifying games against the Netherlands, without the correct residency qualifications.

It is the second time that the Spanish have been found guilty of fielding an ineligible player after they were penalized for the same offense in qualifying for the 2019 World Cup.

Thursday’s decision means that Romania will now take their place, while Portugal will take part in a four-team playoff.

The Spanish Rugby Federation issued a statement explaining that “as this very harsh sanction occurs as a result of an alleged forgery of the aforementioned player’s passport, the Spanish Rugby Federation continues with the extraordinary disciplinary procedure initiated at the time.”

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