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Canadian men get a better look at who might join them in World Cup repechage

TORONTO — Canada has a little more information on who it might face in a repechage tournament to decide the last Rugby World Cup qualifier.

Belgium's 18-10 controversial upset win over No. 20 Spain on Sunday meant No. 17 Romania qualifies for the 2019 World Cup in Japan as Europe 1.

Georgia, ranked 12th in the world, topped the Rugby Europe Championship standings with a 5-0-0 record but had already qualified for the World Cup by virtue of its third-place pool finish in the 2015 tournament. That opened the door to Romania, which finished second in the standings. 

A win over No. 25 Belgium would have meant automatic qualification for the Spaniards rather than Romania. And there was an ugly ending to the game as angry Spanish players confronted Romanian referee Vlad Iordaschescu, who along with his two Romanian assistant referees had to be escorted from the field by security.

World Rugby, which does not appoint match officials for Rugby Europe Championship qualifiers, is looking into the appointment of a Romanian referee given the ramifications of the result for Romania.

All of Belgium's points came from penalty kicks.

Spain will now play No. 23 Portugal, with the winner advancing to face No. 16 Samoa home and away. The series winner will book its ticket to Japan as the so-called playoff winner in Pool A while the loser joins 21st-ranked Canada in the four-team repechage in November.

The Belgian win was likely good news for Canada, which lost 25-9 to Romania the last time they met in 2017. Canada beat Spain 37-27 that same year.

The Africa Cup runner-up, likely No. 24 Namibia, No. 30 Kenya or No. 44 Zimbabwe, will also qualify for the repechage. The final repechage team will be the series winner between Asia 2 (likely No. 22 Hong Kong) and No. 85 Tahiti.

The four repechage teams will play a round-robin to decide which country will draw into Pool B in Japan with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Africa 1. 

Canada dropped into the repechage after losing qualifying series against the 15th-ranked Americans and No. 18 Uruguay.

The Canadian men have appeared at every Rugby World Cup since the tournament's inception in 1987. In past years, they have booked their tournament ticket at the first round of qualifying.

In other weekend action, the Ontario Arrows lost 36-19 to Rugby United New York in New Rochelle, N.Y. The Arrows, who hope to join the new Major League Rugby pro circuit, next play April 6 when they visit the MLR's Utah Warriors.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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