Plenty at stake in rankings with ENC tussles

(IRB.COM) Friday 9 April 2010
 
 Plenty at stake in rankings with ENC tussles
Ukraine are the highest ranked side in Division 2A


Ukraine have already guaranteed top spot in Division 2A to take their place among the European Nations Cup top tier and remain in the region's Rugby World Cup 2011, but this weekend they will be focused on doing the double over Czech Republic.

Their 20-10 victory last March was a first against the Czech Republic in nearly 11 years and a win on the road in Ricany on Saturday will ensure Ukraine remain the highest placed of the Division 2A nations in the IRB World Rankings by staying put in 26th.

Ukraine currently trail Spain by more than two rating points and as a result even a win by more than 15 points over a side ranked six places below them will not see them improve their position, although it would cut the deficit to a side they will face in the top tier next season by more than half.

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The Czech Republic fell two places to 35th on the back of a first ever loss to Belgium a fortnight ago, and another defeat on home soil will see them slide between two and four places, depending on the margin of defeat and the outcome of the other Division 2A match between Poland and Moldova.

However, if the Czechs win by a margin greater than 15 points - as they have done on each of their previous four victories over Ukraine - then they will climb to 32nd with Ukraine sliding four to 30th and cutting the deficit between the two to less than a rating point.

The Czech Republic could climb one place with a smaller margin of victory, but this is dependent on Poland losing on home soil to Moldova in Sochaczew, a side they edged 30-28 last May to level the head to head series at one-all after Moldova's win back in April 2006.

Poland can climb one place to 33rd with victory, unless the Czechs beat Ukraine by more than 15 points. In this event Poland would remain 34th with the Czechs leaping above them. Moldova will fall by three places to 41st with defeat, regardless of the final scoreline.

By contrast if Moldova can taste victory - and boost their hopes of avoiding relegation to Division 2B - then they could climb as high as 33rd to enjoy their highest position in over a year. An emphatic win for Moldova will see Poland slide as many as seven places to 41st, their lowest standing in the IRB World Rankings.

New highs at stake in Netanya

Israel, meanwhile, will resume their Division 3C campaign looking to build on a 100 percent record in the first half of the competition, which spans two years, when they host Bulgaria at the Wingate Institute in Netanya on Saturday.

The Israelis currently lie third in the standings as a result of having played two matches less than Greece and Bulgaria above them, but remain favourites to finish top and secure promotion to Division 3B for next season.

A fourth win in five meetings with Bulgaria will see Israel climb one or two places in the IRB World Rankings, depending on the margin of victory. If Israel win by more than 15 points then they will rise to 79th, equalling their highest ever position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003.

Bulgaria would slide seven places to 89th in this event, but a loss by a smaller margin will still see them fall four places. However, if Bulgaria can taste victory for the first time since June 2003 then they are guaranteed a new high, regardless of the margin with an emphatic win lifting them six places to 76th.

The other European Nations Cup match taking place this weekend, between Armenia and Serbia in Division 3A, will not impact the IRB World Rankings as Armenia 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.