Russia vs. USA Has Strange World Cup Connection

Peter Malcolm Talks Eagle Pack

The United States' upcoming Summer Series matchup against Russia has its own Rugby World Cup-tinged flavor now, and it's all because a bunch of Belgians, Spaniards, and Romanians got angry.

Of course, most Eagles fans know that the USA qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup almost a year ago. That's been good news for the Eagles, as they have been able to prepare for Tokyo for longer than usual, continuing with this Saturday's test vs. Russia in Denver.

However, the Russians just found out they will be going to Japan, too, and learned the news in a strange way.

Watch USA vs. Russia LIVE on FloRugby

Saturday, June 9 | 7 PM CT

It all started on March 18 when Belgium hosted Spain during the final weekend of the Rugby Europe Championship, which is a second tier behind the Six Nations. Spain looked set to claim second behind Georgia and, as a result, secure an automatic spot in the World Cup.

But, the game didn't go as planned. Belgium played with tenacity, and Spain got impatient. The Spanish got into penalty trouble—a lot of penalty trouble—and after the game, an 18-10 Belgium victory, blamed the referee.

The Spanish players did not coat themselves with glory in how they reacted after the game, but many felt they had a beef. The refereeing team, after all, was made up of officials from Romania, and a Spanish loss would mean Romania, not Spain, would get that second World Cup place.

After Rugby Europe was unable to resolve the issue, World Rugby got involved. And the upshot was even uglier. Belgium was found to have used ineligible players. Romania was found to have used ineligible players. In addition, Spain was found to have used ineligible players. There was no way anyone was going to replay all the games in which these teams fielded players who shouldn't have been on the field. 

So, instead, World Rugby decided to deduct five standings points for every game in which a team fielded ineligible players. The result was a points bloodbath, with Romania dropping to last place with minus-11 points. Spain ended up with minus-7, and Belgium finished with minus-6.

The team left standing? Russia. The Russians went 2-3, losing close games to Spain, Romania, and Georgia and beating Belgium and Germany.

Having finished second by virtue of not cheating, the Bears take the Europe 1 spot (Georgia had already qualified).

All of that means there is much at stake in this weekend's clash between the U.S. and Russia. There's a burgeoning rivalry that has overheated at times. There's the international rivalry that hasn't really cooled off over the decades. And now, this is a clash of two World Cup teams looking to start their campaigns.

European Challenge Cup QFs on FloRugby

null

The second tier of the European Rugby Championship is set for this weekend and will be live on FloRugby in the Middle East and North Africa.

RWC Trophy Stops In Hollywood

Gerard Butler Ponders A RWC Steal

The Webb Ellis Cup received a star-studded welcome to Hollywood as it embarked on the fifteenth leg of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Trophy Tour in Los Angeles. 

Heineken Champions Cup Quarterfinals This Weekend

null

Rugby in Europe pivots to the Heineken Champions Cup quarterfinals this weekend, with eight teams still in the fight for continental glory.

Lindenwood, Life To Meet In D1 Elite Final

Lindenwood University and Life University will face off in two weeks for the 2019 USA Rugby Women's D1 Elite College Championships after both won their semifinals Sunday.

Rejiggered Lineup For USA As Hong Kong 7s Loom

null

There's no rest for the weary as the USA Men's 7s team gets ready to compete in the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens April 5-7 for Round 7 of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Road To HS Nationals: Everyone Is Good In NorCal

One of the toughest jobs in the buildup to the Boys HS Rugby National Championships is deciding how the teams, once invited, will be seeded; Northern California isn't making it any easier.

Toulon Tumble Down Table

Toulon coach Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said his side's 42-33 defeat by Lyon in the Top 14 on Saturday reflected their whole campaign.

PRP Insurrection As Glendale, SFGG Win

null

The Pacific Rugby Premiership season is not over by a long shot, and trailing teams are sending a very clear message that they want in on the party.

D1A Roundup: Good Day To Be Ranked Higher

Life University Rugby Visits FloSports HQ

Higher-ranked teams ruled the weekend in Men's D1A College; here's how it went down.

Saint Mary's Defense Shuts Down Navy In Annapolis

Ronan Murphy: The Big Body On Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's put in an impressive defensive effort to defeat the US Naval Academy 20-7 Saturday in Annapolis.