March 22, 2018 / 5:14 PM / 9 months ago

Rugby-Romania withdraws referee from Challenge Cup match over security fears

(Reuters) - Romanian rugby federation (FRR) is withdrawing referee Vlad Iordachescu from being a fourth match official in the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final between French clubs Pau and holders Stade Francais on March 30 due to security concerns.

Iordachescu’s performance during Spain’s 18-10 defeat by Belgium in Brussels on Sunday led to ugly confrontations breaking out at the final whistle as members of the Spanish coaching staff tried to restrain their players.

“Referee Vlad Iordachescu’s appointment to Challenge Cup quarter-final (between) Pau (and) Stade Francais was cancelled for security reasons,” the FRR said in a statement.

“One of the teams (Pau) is using Spanish national team players and there is also a geographical proximity to Spain.”

The 33-year-old Iordachescu, considered one of the best Romanian referees, was pursued by furious Spain players and several irate supporters and needed to be escorted off the pitch by competition officials.

The European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), which organises the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup, said it had taken a decision to appoint a new fourth official for the Pau - Stade Francais game, having consulted the Romanian federation.

“To clarify, EPCR has no jurisdiction over the Belgium - Spain match last weekend and no comment to make on that fixture and the subsequent reaction to it,” EPCR’s head of communications and public relations Martyn Hindley told Reuters on Thursday.

“However... following that match, EPCR believes it is prudent to appoint a new fourth official in place of Mr Iordachescu for the European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final between Pau and Stade Francais Paris.”

The Spanish federation has lodged a formal complaint to World Rugby and Rugby Europe, demanding that the game should be replayed.

FRR president Alin Petrache has condemned as “hooliganism” the behaviour of the Spain players who pursued the Romanian referee at the end of the game in Belgium, adding the Spanish team are not ready to compete at the elite level.

The shock defeat allowed Romania to qualify for the World Cup at Spain’s expense. Victory over Belgium would have secured Spain second place behind already-qualified Georgia in the Rugby Europe Championship standings and a ticket to next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Romania have competed in every Rugby World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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