Today’s rugby headlines as World Rugby slam ‘despicable’ tampering and former captain killed in crash

Here are your rugby morning headlines for Friday, May 5.

World Rugby slam ‘quite despicable’ tampering of Spanish passport

World Rugby has disclosed the “quite despicable” details of how Spain were ejected from next year’s World Cup in France.

The Spanish were found guilty last month of fielding an illegible player whose passport was forged so he could be selected on residency grounds. South Africa-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who was unaware his passport had been forged, made two appearances against the Netherlands during the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Spain finished as runners-up in the Rugby Europe Championship – which was enough to seal their place at a first first World Cup in 24 years. However, World Rugby’s investigation found Van den Berg had not been a Spanish resident for the 36-month period required.

As such, Spain were hit with a 10-point deduction, a £25,000 fine and removal from next year’s World Cup – with Portugal taking their place. Now, World Rugby have released a full written decision which criticised Spain’s attitude to the sport’s eligibility laws.

The written decision states: “Representatives from the player’s club had apparently, without either Spain’s or the player’s knowledge, tampered with travel stamps in the player’s passport to make it seem that the player had not been out of Spain for more than two months in that first year to facilitate the player’s reclassification as a domestic player.

“However, notwithstanding the amended stamps, the player had been out of Spain for longer than the permitted period. The machinations revealed over the apparent tampering are quite despicable and reflect very badly on those that may have played a part in such events.

“All three allegedly complicit club officials declined to give evidence. The committee further expressed concerns the union did not appear to have an appropriate process in place to review the movements of players that were relying on residence for eligibility.

“The committee noted the union had been sanctioned in the past for selection of non-eligible players and in those circumstances expected the union to have stringent processes in place to ensure the circumstances of each player had been carefully considered prior to being selected. The committee further noted its dissatisfaction with the union not seeking confirmation of the player’s eligibility in advance of selecting the player to represent the union.”

Wales line up Canada trip ahead of World Cup

Wales Women have confirmed they will travel to Canada in August to complete a training camp and play a Test match in Halifax against Canada on Saturday, August 27.

Head coach Ioan Cunningham said, “We are looking at every way to best prepare the squad for the Rugby World Cup. We feel a training camp away from home, adapting to time zones and a different training environment will help us adjust to New Zealand when we arrive in September. And a Test match at the end of the week against Canada, who are currently third in the world, will be a huge help in our preparations.

“We keep repeating ourselves but it really is a case of challenging ourselves to raise the bar by playing the best sides in the world as often as possible. The TikTok Women’s Six Nations was a brilliant tournament to be part of. We feel we have made significant progress since playing Canada last autumn and we want to keep improving over the summer. We are already excited to get started on our World Cup preparations and being able to build on our progress so far this season.”

Namibia’s first ever captain killed aged 60

Namibia’s first ever captain Gerhard Mans has been killed while cycling with his son on Wednesday.

Informante reported that the 60-year-old was struck by an unlicensed white BMW on the Western Bypass near Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. It’s understood Mans was out with a practice group when his bike was hit from behind.

The driver of the car was reportedly arrested at the scene and, under Namibian law, will be charged with “culpable homicide”.

Mans made 27 Test appearances for Namibia between 1990 and 1994, serving as skipper for 26 of those games. The winger was named his country’s first captain after it gained independence from South Africa in 1990.

Prior to that, he also captained South West Africa and helped the team win the ‘B’ division of the Currie Cup in 1987. Following their promotion to the ‘A’ league for the 1988 campaign, he led the side to famous victories over Western Province at Newlands, as well as beating Transvaal at Ellis Park.

Mans’ performances saw him earn a nomination for the South Africa Rugby Player of the Year award in 1988. He ultimately retired from the sport after Namibia failed to qualify for the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa.

A statement from the Mans’ first professional club, the Cheetahs, paid tribute to their former player on Facebook : “Free State Rugby has learnt with great sadness of the tragic passing of former player Gerhard Mans. It’s a sad day for the Cheetah family. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Bristol boss stepping down amid salary cap error

Bristol chief executive Mark Tainton is to step down from his role at the end of the season. The Bears explain his departure is for personal reasons but it comes in the wake of an administrative error made in several player contracts which limited the Bears’ recruitment plans.

Tainton is Bristol’s all-time highest points scorer and has served the club across four decades as a player, interim head coach and member of the board.

“It’s always a hard decision to make a change, but I feel after so many years of service to the sport and club that I love, now is the right time to move on,” Tainton said.


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