Korea rise again as Japan retain A5N title
Japan powered past Hong Kong to win a fifth successive HSBC Asian 5 Nations title, while Korea continued their revival with an emphatic 87-17 victory over Kazakhstan to move into second place in the standings behind the Brave Blossoms.
Japan’s 67-0 victory – their 20th consecutive bonus point win in the competition – at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo put a smile on coach Eddie Jones’ face as he labelled it their “best performance” of the Top 5.
However, the victory did not have any impact on Japan’s rating or position of 14th in the latest IRB World Rankings. Hong Kong, who were unable to handle Japan’s pace and power in the 11-try rout, remain 29th.
The same cannot be said of Korea, who have risen another two places to 26th – climbing above Morocco and Poland – after brushing aside Kazakhstan 87-17 in Almaty with fly half Oh Young Hyung grabbing a 27-point haul.
Korea, who also beat Hong Kong in round two, now occupy second place in the standings with 11 points, four more than Hong Kong with UAE fourth on six points and Kazakhstan last on one point.
Kazakhstan’s loss not only sees them fall two places to 33rd in the rankings, but also puts their place in the Top 5 under serious threat and they must beat Hong Kong and also hope that UAE lose to Korea without picking up a bonus point.
The Koreans were not the only nation on the rise in the IRB World Rankings over the weekend as Russia have climbed one to 21st, swapping places with Uruguay, after edging Spain 41-37 in their European Nations Cup encounter in Moscow.
Spain remain 19th despite losing their final European Nations Cup clash of the season, although they are now less than five tenths above Russia with Namibia splitting the European rivals.
Uruguay were themselves in action over the weekend in the South American Championship in Chile, losing 40-5 to Argentina. However this match, along with Chile’s 19-6 win over Brazil, did not impact the rankings.
One match that did result in positional changes was Hungary’s 28-14 defeat of Norway in the European Nations Cup Division 2C. Hungary have rocketed nine places to 80th, while condemning their hosts to a three-place fall to 93rd.
There were also two Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying matches on Saturday in North America which did result in rating changes, albeit not enough to lead to positional changes.
Sixtieth ranked Guyana have increased their rating slightly after drawing 10-10 away to Barbados, who remain 67th, just above Cayman Islands who suffered a 7-3 loss to Bermuda in the other NACRA Championship match.
The win inches Bermuda closer to Trinidad & Tobago above them in 49th place.