World Rugby have announced that Tahiti have been removed from the Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifiers after fielding ineligible players in a match against the Cook Islands last year.
The Cook Islands Rugby Union had called for World Rugby to investigate the Tahiti Rugby Union after claiming they had fielded ineligible players during a Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying match between the two sides in Rarotonga on August 4, a match Tahiti won 13-9.
Independent judicial officer Tim Gresson, a former International Rugby Board member from New Zealand, oversaw the case and determined that the Tahiti Rugby Union had breached regulation 8 by fielding two ineligible players for the match - French-born backs, halfback Guillaume Brouqui, who scored a try, and first five-eighth Andoni Jimenez, who kicked a penalty.
Gresson was said to be "completely satisfied" that the two players had not lived in Tahiti consecutively for 36 months when they first played for Tahiti - which the rules stipulate must be the case.
The decision sees the result of the match in Rarotonga overturned, meaning the Cook Islands are have now been named as the official winners.
The Cook Islands will therefore progress to the next qualification phase, where they are due to meet the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship in home and away matches.
The first leg is scheduled to take place in the Cook Islands on June 30 with the return leg a week later on July 7.