Plenty at stake for Europeans in rankings

(IRB.COM) Thursday 8 October 2009
 
 Plenty at stake for Europeans in rankings
Slovenia beat Hungary 32-26 when the sides last met - Photo: FIRA-AER

Ukraine could take a step closer to their goal of topping Division 2A of the European Nations Cup and keeping alive their involvement in the region's Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifying process with victory over Belgium in Kiev on Saturday.

The match will be broadcast live on Ukrainian national television and if the hosts can avenge a slender 9-8 loss to Belgium a year ago then they will climb four places in the IRB World Rankings to 26th - their highest position for nearly five years.

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That loss to Belgium is the Ukraine's only defeat in this European Nations Cup campaign and a victory in their last home match will take them five points clear of Poland at the top of Division 2A and a step closer to earning a play-off against Lithuania next May.

Germany, Tunisia, Kazakhstan and Brazil will all fall a place with a Ukrainian victory, while Belgium will themselves slip a place to 33rd - swapping places with Morocco - if they suffer defeat by a margin of more than 15 points.

If Belgium can repeat their slender victory on home soil then they will climb return to the top 30 with a three place climb to 29th, with Ukraine assuming their visitors' previous position of 32nd.

This Division 2A encounter is not the only European Nations Cup fixture over the weekend, although it is the only one that forms part of the Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifying process in the region this season.

Big gains on the cards

Lithuania, the Division 3A winners in 2008/09 after a perfect record with four wins from four, will be looking to repeat their 26-10 victory over Andorra last year when the sides meet in Siauliai.

If they do emerge victorious once more then there will be no impact on their rating points given Lithuania currently sit 34 places and 10.42 points above 72nd place Andorra in the IRB World Rankings.

However, if the visitors Andorra could cause an upset at the Savivaldbye Stadium then will shoot up a minimum of 10 places to their best ranking since the turn of the year. Lithuania would fall five places on the back of a defeat.

Monaco have the potential to enjoy a similarly large climb if they manage to win away from home against Bosnia & Herzegovina in their Division 3D encounter in Zenica.

They are currently the higher ranked of the two at 89th, albeit only by a single place and half a rating point, and victory would see them rise eight places and condemn Bosnia & Herzegovina to a two place fall below Nigeria and Vanuatu.

Plenty to lose in Pécs

Bosnia & Herzegovina, though, were convincing winners when the sides met in Menton virtually a year ago to the day and a repeat of that 50-5 scoreline will see them rise four places to 86th and their highest ever position since the IRB World Rankings began in October 2003. Monaco would slide two places in defeat.

The other European Nations Cup match this weekend also involves two sides separated by only a couple of places with 61st ranked Slovenia travelling to Pécs to face Hungary, a side who currently lie three places and 0.15 rating points below them.

Slovenia made the most of their home advantage to edge their meeting last season 32-26 and will be looking to repeat that to remain top of the Division 3B standings. A victory will see them rise a couple of places and condemn Hungary to a fall of at least seven places, depending on the winning margin.

However if Hungary can hand Slovenia their first defeat of the two-year campaign to determine promotion and relegation, then they could climb as high as 60th and condemn their visitors to a fall of seven places to 68th.

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