Hong Kong inch closer to best ever ranking

(IRB.COM) Monday 9 May 2011
 
 Hong Kong inch closer to best ever ranking
Hong Kong have climbed nine places since the A5N began - Photo: Thusith Wijederu/DigiEye

Hong Kong not only moved a step closer to achieving their target of second place in the HSBC Asian 5 Nations for the first time ever with a 48-3 victory over Sri Lanka, but they also climbed four places in the latest IRB World Rankings.

The victory lifts Hong Kong to 28th place, just one shy of their best ever position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003, and means that since the Top 5 began last month they have risen nine places in total.

VIEW THE FULL RANKINGS >>

Buoyed by their performance in losing 45-22 to Japan a week earlier, Hong Kong produced an emphatic disply of running rugby to score seven tries in Columbo with fly half Keith Robertson and centre Lee Jones grabbing a brace in the victory.

“It was an outstanding performance. This is the biggest win since I’ve been involved with Hong Kong, and I think the biggest win for us in the Five Nations. With this win we can now look at finishing second, a place we deserve to be thanks to the hard work of the players,” insisted Hong Kong coach Dai Rees.

While Hong Kong climb into the top 30 for the first time since early 2009, Sri Lanka fall three places to 44th as a result of the loss which sets up a must-win battle with Kazakhstan if they are to safeguard their Top 5 status for 2012.

Biggest movers of the week

The weekend’s other Top 5 match had no impact on the IRB World Rankings with defending champions Japan piling the pressure on relegation threatened Kazakhstan with a 61-0 victory on neutral soil in Thailand.

Japan, who went into the match 17 places and 17.91 rating points above their opponents, stay 13th but Kazakhstan actually slip one place to 31st as a result of Hong Kong’s climb.

Hong Kong, though, are not the biggest climbers of the week with that honour falling to another Asian side in Chinese Taipei, who shoot up six places to 55th after beating Thailand 22-10 in the A5N Division II final in Bangkok.

Chinese Taipei, who slumped 11 places in 2010, had edged a title battle with the ever-improving Iran 34-31 on Wednesday to set up the final with hosts Thailand and a chance to return to Division I at the first attempt.

Thailand had been ranked once place above their opponents going into the tournament, but actually now sit eight places below Chinese Taipei after slipping three to 63rd with defeat on home soil.

Denmark on the rise

India were another Asian side to fall in the rankings with a one-place drop to 76th as a result of their day one loss to Thailand. India did lose again on Saturday, 30-19 to Iran to be relegated to Division III, but their opponents are not yet a Full Member Union of the IRB and therefore not ranked.

The biggest climbers of the last seven days in Europe were Denmark, who ran out 29-17 winners over Israel in their European Nations Cup Division 2C encounter in Odense. A result which sees them climb five places to 62nd and Israel drop one to 71st.

Lithuania are the only other ENC winner from the weekend to improve their rankings, climbing one place to 38th following a 29-12 victory away in Croatia, who slip three places to 49th in defeat.

Sweden did improve their rating by just under three tenths after beating Malta 24-13 in the other Division 2A encounter, but remain 40th. Their visitors to Stockholm are also unchanged in 50th, albeit slightly closer to Singapore below them.

The weekend’s other European Nations Cup matches – which saw Serbia beat Armenia 20-18 and Cyprus overwhelm Luxembourg 50-0 – had no impact on the IRB World Rankings as Armenia and Cyprus are not yet Full Member Unions of the IRB.