Nine place gains for Sri Lanka and Malaysia

(IRB.COM) Monday 19 April 2010
 
Nine place gains for Sri Lanka and Malaysia
Sri Lanka are now closing in on their best ever position in the IRB World Rankings - Photo: Adzni Yusof


Newly crowned HSBC Asian 5 Nations Division I champions Sri Lanka and third place finishers Malaysia are the biggest climbers in the latest IRB World Rankings after rocketing up nine places to 44th and 59th respectively.

Sri Lanka's victories over Chinese Taipei (37-7) and Singapore (23-16) over the last seven days have taken them to their highest position in the rankings for nearly three years and within touching distance of their best ever of 42nd back in 2006.

Malaysia, meanwhile, have continued their rise up the rankings and nearly replicated their climb (10 places) across the whole of 2009 in the space of a week after a slender 22-20 to Singapore and 35-8 defeat of Chinese Taipei.

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While Malaysia are celebrating their highest ever position, Chinese Taipei have slumped to their lowest since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 with a 12-place fall to 62nd.

Chinese Taipei had sent a youthful and inexperienced side to Singapore and while this should benefit them in the future, the two losses in the space of week to sides ranked below them have proved costly.

Singapore not only saw their dreams of an immediate return to the Asian 5 Nations Top 5 - alongside the likes of Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan - ended as they also suffer a one-place drop in the IRB World Rankings to 53rd.

Another side to climb up the rankings on the back of a victory is Latvia, who rise five places to 56th after beating higher ranked Sweden 31-27 in Riga in their European Nations Cup encounter on Saturday.

The victory still means that Latvia sit bottom of the Division 2B standings with only one match remaining, but they are now level with Sweden on nine points after their first win in the European Nations Cup competition spanning two seasons.

However, Latvia's much inferior point differential means that they must beat Malta away from home at the weekend and hope that Sweden lose to Croatia on 1 May to avoid relegation to Division 3A next year.

Sweden's loss sees them fall one place to 52nd in the IRB World Rankings, a slide of any more nullified by the falls of Singapore and Chinese Taipei who had both begun the previous week sitting above them.

Malta rise despite loss

The other movers of note were Malta, who climb three places to 51st as a result of Sweden, Singapore and Chinese Taipei's falls. This is despite them losing 19-0 to the Netherlands in the other Division 2B encounter at the weekend.

The Netherlands' victory preserves their unbeaten record and inches them closer to securing the title and promotion to Division 2A next season. The Dutch remain in 33rd with the victory, improving their rating by only one hundredth.

Fifteen other nations between 45th and 68th have seen their ranking slip by one place as a result of the large climbs of Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Latvia. Colombia and Cook Islands buck the trend by rising one place, while the only two remaining stationary are Bermuda and Switzerland in 57th and 58th.

Switzerland sit less than a thousandth above Malaysia now after their match with Lithuania was cancelled as a result of the volcanic ash cloud that has grounded flights across Europe and prevented their visitors making it to Basel.

The cancellation means that Lithuania have to wait another week for the chance to create their piece of history with victory over Serbia taking them to 18 consecutive test wins and past the benchmarks of New Zealand and South Africa.

There was one other European Nations Cup match at the weekend with Israel beating Greece 39-0 to ensure they remain top of Division 3C with a perfect record. However, this doesn't impact the IRB World Rankings as Greece are not yet a full Member Union of the International Rugby Board and therefore not ranked.