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World Rugby banns Russia and Belarus

by Saba Gulmagarashvili

Russia and Belarus have been suspended immediately by World Rugby, joining a growing list of international sports governing bodies.

Until further notice, the respective countries’ unions have been excluded from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby operations. In addition, Russia’s Rugby Union has been suspended from World Rugby membership.

The World Rugby Executive Committee took this decision in order to “protect the rugby family and take a strong stance against the conflict,” based on recommendations from the International Olympic Committee and on Rugby Europe’s decision last week to suspend Russia’s home activities in the Rugby Europe Championship.

Russia, Belarus suspended by World Rugby 'until further notice'

World Rugby restated its criticism of the incident in a statement released on Tuesday saying:

“Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and the facilitation of this action by Belarus. The global rugby family is united in standing in solidarity with everyone affected by these deeply disturbing events and joins the global community in calling for the restoration of peace.

“The decision has been taken with the interests of rugby’s values of solidarity, integrity and respect at heart. World Rugby also remains in contact with colleagues at the Ukraine Rugby Federation and has pledged its full support to the rugby community in the country.”

Russia’s Rugby Europe Championship match versus Georgia in Tbilisi was cancelled three days after Russian forces entered Ukraine. Russia finished last in Europe’s second-tier international competition after two defeats in as many games.

Russia has not yet qualified for next year’s World Cup in France, and their chances of doing so have been effectively ended by this suspension.

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