Zimbabwe fall one place in world rankings
Zimbabwe have slipped once place to 31st in the latest IRB World Rankings following a 22-7 loss to Hong Kong on the opening day of the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations at 7he Sevens in Dubai on Saturday.
The African champions had taken the lead against Hong Kong in the fourth minute when impressive number 8 Takunda Chifokoyo charged 20 metres from the base of the match’s first scrum to send wing Steven Hunduza over for the try.
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Hong Kong largely controlled the rest of the first half but went in trailing 7-6 thanks to some last-ditch tackling from Zimbabwe. The defending champions continued to dominate territorially after the break and edged ahead with two early penalties.
A great running angle from centre Stewert Megraw saw Hong Kong finally cross the Zimbabwean try-line at the hour mark with debutant fly half Christopher McAdam closing out the match 10 minutes from time to take his personal tally to 17 points.
Zimbabwe, missing a number of their Sevens stars who were in South Africa for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series over the weekend, have swapped places with Ukraine in the rankings.
Hong Kong remain 28th, but have now closed to within four tenths of Korea above them.
The other match in the Cup of Nations saw tournament newcomers Belgium overwhelm their hosts, the United Arab Emirates, 94-3 although with 73 places separating the teams in the IRB World Rankings the match had no impact on either side’s rating.
Cyprus close in on record
UAE, who entered the rankings last week with a rating of 30.00 points after becoming a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board, did actually open the scoring with a penalty, but were then unable to handle the constant waves of Belgian attacks.
Belgium ran in 14 tries with wing Thibaut Andre and centre Kevin Dams both scoring hat-tricks, but it was full back Alan Williams who stole the show with a four-try haul among the 44 points he contributed to his side’s tally.
Cyrille Nana Njilem, Carlos Fierro, Eliott van Trappen and Maxime Jadot also touched down for Belgium, who are using this tournament as preparation for the challenge of facing Georgia, Russia, Romania, Spain and Portugal in the top tier of the European Nations Cup next year.
The only other match over the weekend was between Cyprus and Slovenia in Division 2C of the European Nations Cup, although this had no impact on the IRB World Rankings as Cyprus are not a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board.
Cyprus, though, moved a step closer to breaking the record of consecutive Test victories – currently held by Lithuania with 18 – after sweeping aside Slovenia 49-8 in Paphos on Saturday to move clear at the top of the standings.
The win takes Cyprus’ unbeaten run to 17 matches dating back to November 2008 and victory over Bulgaria on 16 March will see them equal Lithuania’s record.