Russia Punted from 2023 Rugby World Cup in France

Russia Punted from 2023 Rugby World Cup in France

Russia’s national rugby team has been was banned from participating in the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France as a punitive measure for the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Organisers announced Thursday that Georgia had automatically qualified for the tournament after Russia’s remaining three matches in the Rugby Europe Championship were abandoned by the Rugby World Cup board.

But Georgia will have to wait to find out whether it has qualified for the World Cup in France next year as Europe 1, which would put it in a pool with Australia, Wales and Fiji, or Europe 2 with South Africa and Ireland.

If they face Wales, the group could be practically identical – apart from Uruguay – to that Wales faced in 2019.

Georgia has qualified for every Rugby World Cup since 2003 but has yet to get out of the pool stage while Russia has participated twice: in 2011 in New Zealand and 2019 in Japan.

A message in support of Ukraine, being invaded by Russia, is pictured ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, Scotland on February 26, 2022. (PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Azamat Bitiev of Russia in action during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group A game between Scotland and Russia at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on October 09, 2019 in Japan. (Mike Hewitt/Getty)

The news comes just days after Formula One announced it was cancelling the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, scheduled for September 25.

Pressure had grown on the organisers after reigning champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said they would not go to Sochi, AFP reports.

The Black Sea resort was due to host the race for the last time before it heads to Saint Petersburg next year.

Elsewhere in Europe, the International Ski Federation has announced Russia will not host any more of its World Cup events this winter.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also urged sports bodies to cancel or move all events planned for Russia and Belarus and to stop using the countries’ flags and national anthems.

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Simon Kent