Spanish players (in yellow) surround Romanian referee Vlad Iordachescu after the final whistle in their disputed defeat to Belgium in March. Photo: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

PARIS - Appeals by Romania and Spain against their disqualification from the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be heard on Friday, World Rugby has announced.

Russia were awarded a place at the 2019 World Cup in Japan after World Rugby sensationally disqualified Spain, Romania and Belgium on May 15.

Russia had finished third in European qualifying for the World Cup but head to the tournament after Romania, who originally won the section, second-placed Spain and fourth-placed Belgium were all docked points for fielding ineligible players.

An independent Disputes Committee from World Rugby will hear the two appeals.

The controversy kicked off when Spain's rugby federation (FER) demanded a rematch of their loss to Belgium, which ultimately allowed Romania to qualify at their expense for next year's showpiece in Japan.

The FER pointed to several errors by the referee, Romanian Vlad Iordachescu, during an 18-10 defeat in Brussels in which the official had to be protected from irate Spanish players as he left the field.

World Rugby set up a disputes committee to examine Spain's complaints.

But in a surprise outcome the committee found that Spain, Belgium and Romania had all fielded ineligible players during qualifying matches for the World Cup.

Subsequently, Spain were docked 40 points with Romania and Belgium penalised 30 each -- five points for every match in which an ineligible player appeared.

It meant that Russia won the group despite winning only half of their eight qualification matches, while Germany who lost six of theirs, were second and head into the play-offs.

All three sanctioned teams were fined from £50,000 to £125,000.

The Disputes Committee hearing Friday's appeal is made up of World Rugby's independent Judicial Panel chairman Christopher Quinlan QC, former USA international Phaidra Knight and chair of the Europe's EPCR Independent Disciplinary Panel, Mike Hamlin.

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