Switzerland and Malta on the rise in rankings

Switzerland are the biggest movers in the latest IRB World Rankings with a seven-place elevation to 54th after beating Slovenia 33-10 away in Ljubljana in their European Nations Cup 2012 encounter on Saturday.

The win lifts Switzerland to their highest position for two years and also to the top of the Division 2B standings as the competition nears the halfway stage. The defeat means that their hosts Slovenia fall nine places to 71st.

Malta were the other nation to profit from a European Nations Cup victory over the weekend with a three place rise to 50th their prize for beating Croatia 21-14 in their Division 2A battle in Valetta.

The two nations are now separated by only four places in the IRB World Rankings after Croatia slide four places to 46th with defeat, enabling Uganda, the Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Trinidad & Tobago to all rise one spot.

The Netherlands rise comes despite a 22-15 loss in Moldova in Division 1B, a result which does not improve their conquerors position of 28th but does see them inch slightly closer to Brazil above them.

Another side remaining stationary are Lithuania in 39th after overwhelming Latvia 57-3 to return to the top of the Division 2A standings. The defeat, though, does see Latvia fall two places to 56th.

The only other change in the IRB World Rankings sees Bermuda fall one place to 52nd as a result of Malta’s rise, despite themselves overcoming the Bahamas 13-10 in the NACRA Men’s Championship on Saturday.

The victory had no impact on the ratings of either side, simply because Bermuda went into the North Zone round two encounter in Hamilton ranked 35 places above their visitors.

No change in Asia

Barbados’ were also victorious in the NACRA Men’s Championship, beating the British Virgin Islands 19-13 to progress to the South Zone round two, but the match did not affect the rankings as BVI are not yet a Full Member Union of the IRB and therefore not ranked.

The weekend’s other two matches came in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations 2011 with the United Arab Emirates creating a piece of history with their first ever international victory, a surprise 24-10 defeat of Kazakhstan in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Fortunately for Kazakhstan, who have now lost both of their Top 5 matches in 2011, the match does not see them fall from 30th as UAE are not a Member Union of the IRB and therefore do not have a ranking.

Hong Kong remain unchanged in 32nd after losing to three-time defending champions Japan 45-22 on Saturday in a match coach Dai Rees labelled their “best performance in recent years” against the Brave Blossoms.

While Rees may have been happy with the way his side fought back from 31-3 down at half time against an outfit which had beaten them 94-5 last year, his counterpart John Kirwan was less than please with the rusty display by his players.

Japan, ranked 19 places and 18.22 rating points above their hosts, ran in seven tries in Hong Kong but the only positive that Kirwan could find from the match was the win as he insisted there was plenty to work on as they build towards Rugby World Cup 2011.

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