Romania qualifies for 2019 Rugby World Cup after Spain loses

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Romania fans celebrate after the final whistle.

Romania fans celebrate after the final whistle. (Photo: Photosport)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Romania advanced to the Rugby World Cup again when Spain blew its chance and lost to Belgium 18-10 in European qualifiers on Sunday.

The Oaks will slot into Pool A with Ireland, Scotland, Japan, and a yet-to-be-determined playoff winner. They are scheduled to play the opening match with host Japan at Toyota on Sept. 20, 2019.

Romania has played at every Rugby World Cup but never advanced beyond the pool stage. It was expected to have to endure the harder qualifying route after it lost to Spain 22-10 in Madrid last month for the first time in six years.

Spain came to the final round of the Rugby Europe Championship, the tier below the Six Nations, needing to beat lowly Belgium in Brussels for the automatic qualifying spot, but the Belgians raced ahead 15-0 and held on to beat the jittery Spaniards 18-10.

Spain's failure advanced Romania, even though the Oaks lost their Rugby Europe Championship title to Georgia 25-16 in Tbilisi on Sunday.

Romania finished second in the standings, a point above Spain. Georgia automatically qualified for the Rugby World Cup at the 2015 tournament.

Spain, which last made the Rugby World Cup in 1999, will play Portugal for the right to play Samoa home and away. The winner on aggregate will join Romania in Pool A as the playoff winner, and the loser will go to a four-team repechage in November with Canada and two other teams.

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