Spain lost to Belgium 18-10 on Sunday. An opportunity blown! Spain were robbed! Rematch! This is what I have read all across social media.

I watched the 2nd half and I didn’t believe the Romanian referee had the greatest of games. Maybe it was more Rugby Europe’s fault for appointing a ref from Romania, the country who needed the Spanish to lose. If Spain had won, Romania wouldn’t have qualified for the World Cup. I will leave you to debate that.

It’s not over

When I was watching, Spain played ok. In the last 10 minutes, I thought they were going to win. I could easily have imagined this side beating Romania and getting this far. What you must remember is they can still qualify. They face a playoff with Portugal and if they win, they take on Samoa to decide who qualifies and who doesn’t. If they lose that, Spain will have one more chance in the Repechage tournament. This is where I believe Spain are most likely to qualify from. A Canadian side which has not been playing well recently will probably be the main threat to Los Leones.


We all know how badly Spain want to go to Japan, just watch their last game against Belgium. Back to people criticising the referee. After the match ended about 5 angry Spanish players went straight to the match official, probably to say a few harsh words. Obviously, this isn’t great, however, it does make you feel this Spanish side won’t give up. In the dying moments of the game, they managed to score 10 points. Even when Belgium kicked over a penalty to surely end any hope of a fight back, they still kept on fighting hard right up to the final whistle. This level of belief can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing.

For example, Scotland didn’t defend well against Italy on Saturday and found themselves 1 point behind with less than 5 minutes left. This was after a brilliant comeback from 24-12 down from only about a quarter of an hour earlier. However, they still fought on and eventually Greig Laidlaw kicked over a winning penalty to escape 29-27 victors in Rome.

Will the actually do it?

If Spain believe. If the players, coaches and fans believe. Then I still feel that this great nation could be joining the Rugby World Cup party next year. It will be tense. We will witness some great rugby matches from teams desperately wanting to be at the World Cup. If Spain does it, it would be a massive boost for Rugby to have a new nation making the headlines.


Author: Archie Craigie Halkett

Hi, my name is Archie Craigie Halkett. I am a massive Scottish rugby fan. I’m involved with the game quite a lot. I play rugby for my school and my local rugby club. I am a level one qualified rugby referee and a regular contributor to off-line and on-line rugby magazines/publications.


  1. Rugby Europe made the statement on the game:
    Absolutely irresponsible statement, because it makes a main focus on procedures of referee appointment. As a neutral person (I am Georgian) I ask how it came that referee was not neutral? Well, he was appointed long before the last round, meanwhile Spain opposed that and requested referee replacement. Why Rugby Europe did not take into serious account conflict of interest and allow Romanian ref to conduct the game?
    The issue should be further investigated by the World Rugby. As for Rugby Europe a radical reform is needed to shake that swamp. Behavior of Spanish players (after the game) is another issue. Hooligan players should be punished – no question about that.

  2. From my chair, that was disgusting refereeing. No doubt about that! Clearly fixed!
    The Rugby Europe president (another Romanian by the way) can’t be trusted and should be forced to resign.
    Belgium v Spain should be played again…

  3. Well last year super rugby semi final between South african lions and kiwis crusaders was refereed by South african jaco payper who had a fine game

    Also sent off kwagga smith for playing havili in the air and actually the decision was spot on

    It’s not really a matter of nationality, it’s all’ about professionalism

  4. But what about justice, our birth right?! Its a scandal a total robbery.We all know those Romanian refs were willing to commit career suicide. We cant do nothing. If there’s no justice what has this done to the image of the game?

  5. So a match that will decide if Romania qualify for the World Cup is allowed to be refereed by a Romanian, with, I`m led to believe, Romanian touch line officials. Apparently, Spain requested a change of official but were denied by Rugby Europe and their Romanian President. Nice, I sense no potential problem there at all.
    I`ve watched a Youtube video by a Rugby referee critiquing the match ref`s performance, and it` is pretty damning. Being fair and above board alone is not enough, it must be seen to be so.
    If this isn`t rectified with at least a replay then World Rugby will be seen by many to be going down the same corrupt path as FIFA, which is not a happy thought. One of the loudest chants I hear about Rugby is ” this isn`t soccer”, well perhaps it isn`t, yet, but if this is not sorted out quickly then we can all see the writing on the wall.
    Heads should roll, and in this instance an over reaction is much better than no reaction at all.

  6. Good article Archie! I wanted to write something about the referee in the Belgium v Spain game but having watched the YouTube video I don’t think I could write it. It wouldn’t be in keeping with the general tone of respect on the 1014. It was appalling. If I were in charge of World Rugby I would seriously think about a replay, or perhaps a playoff between Spain and Romania for that automatic qualification slot.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here