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Gibraltar rugby wins legal challenge in bid to join Rugby Europe

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The Gibraltar Rugby Football Union [GRFU] won an important legal victory this week in its long-running bid to secure membership of Rugby Europe, the sport’s European governing body.

The GRFU filed a legal challenge after failing to secure sufficient votes to join Rugby Europe at a general assembly in Stockholm in 2013.

On Tuesday, a court in Paris ruled that voting at the assembly had been influenced by one particular board member of Rugby Europe and by procedural irregularities.

The court did not name the member but media reports in 2013 stated that Jose Maria Epalza, a Spaniard who was the European body’s general treasurer, had been allowed to make a speech against Gibraltar’s membership bid despite it not being on the assembly's official agenda.

The ruling, which can be appealed, effectively annuls the decision of the Stockholm general assembly and means the GRFU can call on Rugby Europe to vote again on its membership application.

In announcing the court’s decision yesterday, the GRFU steered clear of any political controversy.

Maurice Stagnetto, the chairman of the GRFU, gave a cautious welcome to the development.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mr Stagnetto said, adding that membership of Rugby Europe would boost facilities and competitive opportunities for local youngsters in the sport.

“All we want to do is play rugby,” he told the Chronicle.

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