Tonga equal best ever ranking after Fiji win
Tonga not only got their IRB Pacific Nations Cup 2011 campaign off to a great start by beating Fiji 45-21 at Churchill Park on Saturday, but also ensured a four-place jump in the IRB World Rankings to 12th, equalling their highest ever standing since their introduction in 2003.
The five-try win on Fijian soil in Lautoka was Tonga’s first Pacific Nations Cup victory since 2008 and means that four of their five victories in the history of this annual competition have now come over their fellow Pacific Islanders.
Tonga are now the higher ranked of the two nations with defeat on home soil resulting in a three-place fall to 13th for 2010 runners up Fiji, equalling their lowest ever standing in the IRB World Rankings.
Samoa have now taken over Fiji’s position in the top 10 after boosting their own rating by 1.56 points on the back of a 34-15 victory over Japan in the weekend’s other Pacific Nations Cup encounter in Tokyo.
Alesana Tuilagi scored two of Samoa’s tries in the Japanese capital to ensure a winning start to their title defence and a rise to within one place of their highest ever ranking, while also condemning their hosts to a two place fall to 15th in the process.
Canada are another nation to fall as a result of Tonga’s elevation to 12th, while Italy benefit from Fiji’s defeat with a one-place rise to 11th to leave them sandwiched between Samoa and the Tongans.
The only other change in the latest IRB World Rankings sees Zimbabwe climb another place – at the expense of Sweden – to 39th following a 49-21 win over Uganda in Bulawayo in the Victoria Cup, an annual competition also involving Kenya.
Zimbabwe’s fourth win in the last month has lifted them nine places and into the top 40 nations for the first time. Uganda’s second loss to Zimbabwe in three weeks means they fall another place to 45th with Sri Lanka the beneficiary.