International Rugby Players has called for administrators across the sport to learn valuable lessons from the recent Rugby Europe Championship fallout.
It follows the decision of an independent judicial panel to dock Romania, Spain and Belgium points for fielding ineligible players in the tournament, eliminating them from potential RWC 2019 qualification.
The global representative body of professional players says the situation could easily have been avoided and feels a number of measures now need to be put in place for Tier Two tournaments.
The player’s organisation is calling for tighter control around education of players on eligibility issues, a global database to track player eligibility and better monitoring of regional tournaments by the governing body. International Rugby Players will also start an eligibility education programme at the upcoming U20 Championships in France next month.
International Rugby Players CEO, Omar Hassanein said: “This situation has called into question the integrity and credibility of our game, which if not properly dealt with, can have a widespread negative effect, as has been evidenced in other sports.
“We vehemently oppose any form of integrity breach creeping into our game and feel that administrators, along with players themselves, should be held to the highest account for any form of breach in future. Given that five Spanish players have been sanctioned for their reaction to this situation, we maintain the view that Rugby Europe should also be held accountable.
“Unfortunately, in this instance, the biggest losers end up being the innocent groups of players who have had their Rugby World Cup dream taken from them and fans that have been affected. We now need to take the learnings from this and ensure these events are never repeated,” he added.
Not only have these recent events had an impact in Europe, but the ramifications have been felt far beyond, with Samoa’s RWC qualification also affected due to the forced rescheduling of matches.
International Rugby Players has been working closely with its member body, Pacific Rugby Players, to ensure any knock-on effects from the Rugby Europe situation are minimised for Manu Samoa.
Pacific Rugby Players Board member Seilala Mapusua said: “The knock-on effect of such poor administration in Europe means that teams around the world now have to change their Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification plans. Samoan Rugby has enough challenges on its plate without this.
“Despite players having mandatory release for these matches under Regulation 9, for Samoan players it brings up issues around player release with clubs, availability and pre-season preparations – all of which are not ideal.”
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