Belgium seek first win for rankings reward

(IRB.COM) Thursday 1 April 2010
 
 Belgium seek first win for rankings reward
Belgium currently lie third in the Division 2A standings, by a tiny point differential from the Czech Republic


Belgium are yet to taste victory against the Czech Republic in four previous meetings and if that trait continues in Prague on Saturday then they will no longer be the higher placed of the sides in the IRB World Rankings.

They currently hold that mantle by occupying 30th, three places above their hosts for the European Nations Cup Division 2A encounter, but a narrow defeat will see them simply swap places, giving the Czechs their highest position in nearly three years.

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Belgium will fall another place to 34th - their lowest for nearly three years - behind the Netherlands if they lose by more than 15 points, as they did on their last visit to Prague in September 2001 when they fell to a 46-3 defeat.

The Division 2A rivals drew 15-15 last March and a repeat performance will see the Czech Republic fall below the Netherlands and allow Belgium to close the gap a little to Tunisia above them.

Whoever emerges victorious in Prague will take over second place in the standings behind Ukraine, who are already confirmed as champions with two matches remaining and set to join the European Nations Cup elite next season.

A first win in the fixture for Belgium will see them gain at least one place at the expense of Tunisia, although a win by more than 15 points will also take them above Brazil and Kazakhstan to equal their best ever position of 27th.

The Czech Republic will fall between two and three places depending on the margin of defeat with the Netherlands, Poland and Paraguay the three nations poised to benefit from a Belgian victory.

There is one other European Nations Cup match this weekend with Armenia hosting Andorra in Aboyvan, but while the Division 3A encounter is crucial to both sides' hopes of avoiding relegation, it will not impact the IRB World Rankings.

This is because Armenia are not yet a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board and therefore not ranked. A win for Armenia, though, would lift them off the bottom of Division 2A and up to second above Serbia, Andorra and Switzerland.

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