Three matches result in changes to rankings
While there were 12 international matches taking place over the last seven days, only four of them had the potential to result in changes to the IRB World Rankings with the others featuring at least one team which is not a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board.
Only Full Member Unions have an IRB World Rankings so only the HSBC Asian 5 Nations match in Kazakhstan, the European Nations Cup matches in Croatia and Latvia and the Elgon Cup return leg in Kenya counted towards the rankings.
Japan were the most convincing winners across these four matches, the Brave Blossoms making a winning start under new coach Eddie Jones with an emphatic 87-0 Top 5 victory over Kazakhstan on Saturday despite 10 players making their Test debuts.
However, the win – Japan’s 17th consecutive in the Asian 5 Nations – had no impact on the IRB World Rankings as a result of the 16.83 rating points and 16 places separating the two sides. Japan therefore remain 14th and Kazakhstan 30th.
Croatia are the biggest movers in the latest IRB World Rankings, climbing four places to 47th on the back of a 31-16 victory over Malta in Division 2A of the European Nations Cup 2012. The defeat means Malta slide two places to 43rd.
The other Division 2A match on Saturday saw Lithuania run out 48-8 winners over Latvia to keep alive their hopes of claiming the title and with it promotion to Division 1B next season. Lithuania’s win lifts them two places to 37th with Latvia falling by the same margin to 71st.
Kenya ran out 12-0 winners over Uganda in the Elgon Cup second leg in Nairobi, but came up just short with Uganda claiming the silverware 19-17 on aggregate. Kenya remain 40th, albeit now only three hundredths behind Czech Republic, while Uganda climb one to 42nd as a result of Malta’s fall.
In the matches not to impact the IRB World Rankings, the biggest winners of the weekend were actually Cyprus who overwhelmed 81st ranked Bulgaria 94-3 to claim the European Nations Cup Division 2D title.
The remaining match in the European Nations Cup was awarded to Serbia 25-0 by tournament organisers with Armenia having forfeited their last three fixtures against Slovenia, Switzerland and Serbia.
Hong Kong were, like Japan, emphatic winners in the opening Top 5 match on Friday, running in 14 tries to beat the United Arab Emirates 85-10 at 7he Sevens in Dubai to signal their desire to break Japan’s dominance of the competition.
The Top 5 was not the only Asian 5 Nations action over the last seven days with Qatar in dominant form to retain their Division IV title in Dubai. Qatar overwhelmed Uzbekistan 74-13 to reach the final, where they then ran out 67-0 winners over Lebanon.
Jordan recovered from an opening 25-19 loss to Lebanon to beat Uzbekistan 19-15 in the third place play-off as the climax of Division IV provided a curtain raiser to the Top 5 encounter between UAE and Hong Kong at 7he Sevens.