Russia and Belarus were banned from all international rugby “until further notice” on Tuesday, the world administration said, as it announced “complete and immediate” sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s World Rugby membership was also indefinitely suspended, meaning the country’s diminutive hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in France are over.
“World Rugby reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine and Belarus’ facilitation of this action,” the statement said.
“The World Rugby Executive Committee decided today to take immediate additional measures to protect the rugby family and to take a firm stance against the conflict in accordance with the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee:
“The complete and immediate suspension of Russia and Belarus from all international rugby and cross-border club rugby activities until further notice.
“The complete and immediate suspension of membership from World Rugby until further notice from the Rugby Union of Russia.”
Russia was still involved in the final European qualifier for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but was fifth in the standings with three games left, with only the top two advancing automatically.
Their qualifier against Georgia, scheduled to take place two days ago, had already been postponed and will now not be played, along with Russia’s last two games against the Netherlands and Portugal later this month.
World Rugby did not say what would happen to the qualifying process.
Russia qualified for the World Cup in 2011 and 2019, but failed to win a match in either tournament.
“The decision has been made in the interests of rugby’s values of solidarity, integrity and respect,” said World Rugby, adding it pledged “full support to the rugby community” in Ukraine.