21 November 2012

Namibia: Nation Drop On IRB Rankings

NAMIBIA dropped three places on the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) rankings to 24th in the world following their 38-37 defeat to Spain in the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Tournament in Windhoek on November 17.

Namibia appeared on course to win the match, but an injury-time penalty by flyhalf Jaime Nava saw Spain snatch a dramatic victory.

Spain also beat Zimbabwe 47-14 in the same tournament, while Namibia beat Zimbabwe 37-33.

Spain’s victory has seen them climbing one position to 20th in the world, while Zimbabwe move one place down to 30th in the world.

Portugal were the biggest climbers of the week, after beating Chile 28-22 in Santiago.

They have effectively swapped positions with Namibia after moving up three places to 21st in the world.

Meanwhile, the IRB reports that the battle to secure the best possible IRB world ranking will go right down to the wire, before the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool Allocation Draw is made in London on December 3.

Samoa, who beat the Six Nations champions Wales 26-19 in Cardiff on Saturday, had cause to celebrate as they moved up one position to ninth and just 0,16 rating points away from a place in the second band of seeds for RWC 2015.

If they beat France in Paris on Saturday, November 24, they could climb to a new high of eighth position in the rankings and condemn Wales or Ireland to a Band Three spot.

On 3 December, the IRB World Rankings will be used to determine the seeding of the 12 directly qualified teams from RWC 2011 with the top four teams becoming Band One and guaranteed to avoid each other until the knockout stages of England 2015

The teams ranked five to eight will form Band Two and the remaining four teams Band Three with each band drawn randomly across the four pools for RWC 2015.

France currently hold the coveted fourth spot after backing up their 33-6 rout of Australia with a hard-fought 39-22 victory over Argentina in Lille, with Frédéric Michalak’s last penalty ensuring Les Bleus secured the maximum gain with victory by more than 15 points.

That kick – taking the returning fly half’s tally to 24 points – means France now have a 3,03 rating point cushion over England after the RWC 2015 hosts slipped to a 20-14 loss to Australia at Twickenham.

England had been the bookmakers’ favourites to beat the Wallabies on Saturday, but they missed their chance to return to the top seeding bracket, falling short against an Australian team determined to get their European tour back on track.

England have the opportunity to determine their own fate but it’s a tall order as their two remaining Tests are against the top two sides in the world with South Africa next up on November 24 followed by New Zealand on December 1.

South Africa strengthened their grip on second place with a 21-10 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield. The defeat, allied with Samoa’s win, means Scotland have slipped to 10th place in the rankings.

There was better news for Ireland, despite them not being able to influence the rankings as a result of playing a non-cap match with Fiji.

Argentina and Ireland both climb one place to sixth and seventh respectively as a result of Wales’ fall.

The sides ranked sixth to ninth (Argentina, Ireland, Wales and Samoa) are separated by just 1.1 rating points going into this weekendÂ’s matches when Ireland tackle Argentina in Dublin, Wales host New Zealand in Cardiff and Samoa tackle France.

New Zealand marked their third anniversary atop the IRB World Rankings with a 42-10 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, but the result had no impact on either side’s rating given the difference between them.

In other Test matches last weekend, Tonga beat the USA Eagles 22-13 in north Wales to remain 12th, while the USA climb one place to 15th despite the defeat, albeit only by virtue of the fact that Georgia suffered a last gasp 25-22 loss to Japan in the first meeting between the two sides on Georgian soil. Japan remains 15th after the win, while Georgia drop one place to 17th.

Canada were also victorious in Colwyn Bay after beating Russia 35-3 but the two sides remain 13th and 20th respectively.

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