Romania will return to the game’s biggest stage next year after it was confirmed the Oaks had qualified for Rugby World Cup 2023.

Andy Robinson’s side finished the combined 2021 and 2022 Rugby Europe Championship in third and looked set to compete in the RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament.

However, second-place Spain were subsequently handed a 10-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player in two RWC 2023 qualifying matches, a decision that was upheld on appeal.

It means that Romania will take their place in Pool B alongside Webb Ellis Cup holders South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and the Asia/Pacific 1 qualifier as they feature in their 10th Rugby World Cup.

The Oaks had been Rugby World Cup ever presents until they failed to qualify for the showpiece tournament in Japan three years ago.

Romania’s place in the Final Qualification Tournament will be taken by Portugal, who finished just two points behind them across the 2021 and 2022 Championships.

The Oaks won six of their 10 Rugby Europe Championship matches across 2021 and 2022, the most important of those being the 37-27 defeat of Portugal and the final weekend 38-12 win against the Netherlands.

Romania had to dig deep to beat Portugal in Bucharest in February, finding themselves 22-13 behind at half-time. However, second half tries from Ovidiu Cojocaru, Alexandru Savin and Andre Gorin ensured they pulled off a momentous comeback.

Heading into the closing round, Robinson’s side knew they needed to beat the Netherlands to leapfrog the Portuguese in the standings, and they raced into a four-try lead.

The Netherlands hit back with two tries to close the gap, but Romania again finished strongly to put the seal on a 26-point victory.

Robinson and his players didn’t know it at the time but victory in Amsterdam ultimately secured their place in France next year. Their attentions will now turn to competing with the best at RWC 2023.