Lengthy bans have been issued to five Spain players involved in the ugly scenes that marred the aftermath of last month’s 18-10 defeat by Belgium in Brussels.
The performance of referee Vlad Iordachescu incensed the favourites, who furiously confronted the Romanian official upon the final whistle with members of the coaching team forced to restrain their players.
Iordachescu had to be escorted from the pitch and the result meant Romania qualified for the 2019 World Cup, leaving Spain to face Portugal and Samoa in the play-offs to reach next year’s tournament in Japan.
A Rugby Europe Independent judicial committee has sanctioned five players, the heaviest among them the 43-week ban handed to replacement back row Sebastien Rouet for physical abuse of a match official and verbal abuse.
Scrum-half Guillaume Rouet has received 36 weeks for the same offences, while Pierre Barthere, Lucas Guillaume and Mathieu Belie have been given 14 weeks each for threatening actions/words directed at a match official.
A statement on the Rugby Europe website read: “These sanctions are applicable immediately for all players’ Rugby activities (clubs and national teams). Players have the right of appeal within seven days of receipt of the written decision.
“The misconduct complaint against the Spanish Rugby Union was suspended and a further hearing date will be set.”
Spain, ranked 19th in the world, travelled to Belgium hoping to seal qualification to the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1999.
All 18 of Belgium’s points came in penalties, while Spain also lost a player to a yellow card for 10 minutes in the second half.
It has since emerged that the Spanish Rugby Federation had asked Rugby Europe, the qualifying competition’s organisers, to appoint different officials but were turned down.