Huge rises and falls on cards in rankings

(IRB.COM) Friday 16 April 2010
 
 Huge rises and falls on cards in rankings
Could Malaysia be celebrating on two accounts this weekend - staying in the A5N Division I and also a new high in the IRB World Rankings?


Five matches across the European Nations Cup and HSBC Asian 5 Nations this weekend could result in significant changes to the IRB World Rankings with climbs or falls nearly into double possible for several sides.

Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Malta could all end up nine places higher than they began the week with emphatic victories, while Chinese Taipei face the worst outcome of a potential fall of 12 places with two losses in the space of seven days.

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With one eye on the future, Chinese Taipei have sent a young team to Singapore for the Asian 5 Nations Division I and have already provisionally dropped five places to 55th on the back of a 37-7 loss to Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

That victory has provisionally resulted in an eight place jump for Sri Lanka to 45th and if they triumph in the Division I final over hosts Singapore on Saturday they can gain another place for their highest ranking in three years.

Singapore, looking to win the title and secure an immediate return to the Top 5 alongside Asia's elite nations in 2011, have provisionally gained two places to 50th by edging past Malaysia 22-20 on Wednesday at the Yio Chu Kang Stadium.

A loss to Sri Lanka could see them end the weekend as low as 56th with an emphatic scoreline, but on the other hand a first win in the head-to-head since 2000 has the potential to take Singapore up to 46th.

In the event of a loss by more than 15 points, Sri Lanka could still end the weekend higher than they began it, although this will depend on the outcomes of European Nations Cup matches in Riga, Basel and Amsterdam on Saturday.

The other Asian 5 Nations encounter this weekend is equally important for Malaysia and Chinese Taipei as they battle to avoid relegation to Division II for next year.

New high for Malaysia?


Chinese Taipei have the advantage in the head-to-head after scoring more than 50 points in their last three meetings. The most recent of these, though, was nearly seven years ago and Malaysia have made great strides in recent years, including a 10-place climb in the IRB World Rankings in 2009.

Malaysia will arguably be favourites going into the match, given the youthful nature of the Chinese Taipei and a first victory since 1976 will see their charge up the rankings continue with a minimum rise of six places to a new high of 62nd.

The 2009 Division II champions could climb as high as 59th with a victory by more than 15 points, which would take them above Chinese Taipei with their 12-place plummet resulting in their lowest ever IRB World Ranking since they were introduced in October 2003.

Chinese Taipei could negate some of the damage caused by the loss to Sri Lanka with a victory, but are still likely to end the weekend lower than they began it. A second defeat this week will see Malaysia drop two places to 70th.

The European Nations Cup can also result in numerous rises and falls in the IRB World Rankings, but one match takes on extra significance with Lithuania on track to beat New Zealand and South Africa's record of 17 consecutive test wins.

Victory over Switzerland in their Division 3A encounter in Basel will take Lithuania, who can still qualify for Rugby World Cup 2011, to 18 and beyond the All Blacks' run from 1965 to 1969 and the Springboks of 1997 and 1998.

CLICK HERE FOR A FEATURE ON LITHUANIA'S RECORD-BREAKING ATTEMPT >>

Lithuania, who have already guaranteed promotion to Division 2B next season, currently sit in 37th position, some 21 places above their hosts and as such even an emphatic win will only lift them above Paraguay unless the Netherlands also lose to Malta.

If Lithuania's unbeaten run comes to an end they will slide a minimum of six places in the rankings, with Switzerland potentially climbing five places depending on the margin of victory and the results in other matches in Europe and Asia.

The Netherlands, looking to take a step closer to the Division 2B title and with it promotion to the second tier of the European Nations Cup, cannot improve their position of 33rd with only a hundredth improvement in their rating points.

Malta could still gain places even with defeat in Amsterdam if Chinese Taipei and Singapore both lose, but a first victory over the Netherlands could take them as high as 43rd - their best ever standing since the rankings began.

The Netherlands - who are still unbeaten in the competition spanning two years - could slide 10 places to 43rd and their lowest standing for 18 months with a defeat by more than 15 points on home soil.

Relegation at stake

Two other Division 2B sides are also in action this weekend with Sweden travelling to Riga to face Latvia with victory a must for both sides in their quest to avoid dropping down a tier in the European Nations Cup.

Sweden currently sit two points above bottom side Latvia with two matches to play and are also the higher placed side in the IRB World Rankings in 51st in comparison to their hosts' 61st.

They could improve this standing by five or six places if they repeat their 21-5 victory in October 2008, with Latvia potentially sliding down to 67th on the back of a defeat which would also confirm their relegation to Division 3A.

However a Latvian victory could result in the two rivals sitting next to each other - withSweden still remaining the higher placed - in the IRB World Rankings if the hosts triumph by more than 15 points.

The only match this weekend which cannot impact the IRB World Rankings is the European Nations Cup Division 3C match between Israel and Greece in Netanya. This is because Greece are not yet a full Member Union of the International Rugby Board and therefore not ranked.

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