Spain players banned for combined 121 weeks for confronting Romanian referee

Spain players, including Guillaume Rouet, confront referee Vlad Iordachescu at the end of Spain's defeat in Belgium last month. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Five Spain players have been banned for a combined 121 weeks by Rugby Europe after they confronted referee Vlad Iordachescu at the end of their side's controversial defeat to Belgium last month.

Replacement scrum-half Sébastien Rouet has been handed the longest suspension, 43 weeks, for physical abuse of a Match Official and verbal abuse.

His brother Guillaume received a 36-week ban for the same offence while Pierre Barthere, Lucas Guillaume and Mathieu Belie were all suspended for 14 weeks for threatening actions or words.

The five players have seven days to appeal the sanctions, which were handed down by an independent judicial committee on Tuesday.

Spain had been one win away from securing their place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup before the contentious clash in Belgium, during which the visitors felt a number of Iordachescu's decisions had gone against them.

Belgium's 18-10 victory ultimately handed the referee's countrymen, Romania, Europe's remaining automatic spot at next year's tournament in Japan.

Spain asked for the game in Brussels to be replayed but World Rugby ruled out that possibility earlier this month as it commissioned an independent disputes committee to review the situation.

Portugal are due to play Spain for the right to face Samoa in a two-legged playoff, with the winner qualifying for the World Cup. None of the suspended players will be eligible for either tie.

A further misconduct complaint against the Spanish Rugby Federation was suspended, and a further hearing date will be set.