Israel chase World Rankings high

(IRB.COM) Friday 8 May 2009
 
 Israel chase World Rankings high
An away victory over Korea would fire Hong Kong up four places in the IRB World Rankings


There are six international matches set to be played across Europe and Asia this weekend, four of them liable to change the IRB World Rankings.


Israel line up against higher-ranked Slovenia in Europe's World Cup qualifying Round one final on Saturday able to go above 80 in the world for the first time. Were the  Israelis to beat Slovenia they would climb to their highest ever position of 79th in the rankings, while Slovenia would fall three places from 58th to 61st.

A win for Slovenia would take them up three to 55, and drop Israel back to 88th.

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Ukraine's European Nations Cup (ENC) Division 2 match against Moldova promises to be competitive, with the sides just five places apart in the world list. A home win for the Ukraine would lift them up two to 29 and drop Moldova two to 38, while the countries would swap places as a result of an away win, the Moldovans climbing five to 31 and the Ukraine going the same distance in the opposite direction.

Lithuania's match against Armenia in Division 3A of the ENC will not affect the rankings as Armenia are an Associate Member of the IRB and, as a result, do not currently have an official World Ranking.

Similarly, Azerbaijan are not a full Member Union so their match against Slovakia will not affect the latter country's IRB ranking.

HSBC Asian Five Nations

In Asia, Korea take on Hong Kong and Singapore face Kazakhstan in the third round of the HSBC Asian Five Nations Top 5, which also doubles as World Cup qualifying.

A home win for Korea would leave them unaffected, eight places above Hong Kong in 24th, but a victory for Hong Kong would close the gap to just three places as they would rise to 28th and the Koreans would fall one to 25th.

Korean head coach Park Ki Haeng has called for his team to bounce back strongly in the third week of the championship. A shock defeat at the hands of Kazakhstan last weekend has left Korea determined to erase the memories of that loss while throwing the elite Top 5 competition wide open.

“This was a wake-up call for the Hong Kong match,” Park said. “We will not make the same mistakes we did against Kazakhstan and I promise you that the Korean team will be at their best on Saturday.”

Under new coach Dai Rees Hong Kong began their 2009 campaign with a 59-6 loss to Japan at home last Saturday. They travel to Seoul for Saturday’s showdown at the Incheon Munhak Stadium well aware that the hosts will be doubly motivated after the shock loss to Kazakhstan.

“We are looking forward to the challenge the Koreans present,” said Rees. “They will be wounded after last week and it is going to be tough, but performance is the key to getting a result.

“We had a very positive start to the A5N and the Japan game has given us a marker on our relative strengths and weaknesses,” Rees said.

“While I was pleased with some of the play, a 20 minute period either side of half time led to 45 points being scored. This was largely down to fatigue which affected both a breakdown in concentration and skill levels.

Korea defeated Hong Kong 50-24 last year and will be aiming for the same explosive start that saw them run up a 24-0 lead in the opening 13 minutes of the game last year at King’s Park in Hong Kong.

In the other match a home win for Singapore against favourites Kazakhstan would take the hosts up three places to 46, and drop the Kazakhs down four to 33. An away win would drop Singapore down one to 50th, but leave Kazakhstan unchanged at 29th.

The IRB World Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 UK time