Switzerland can look forward to life in the third tier of European rugby for the first time in their history after winning the ENC Division 2A title with victory over Croatia.
The 40-15 bonus-point win in Zagreb in the final round of fixtures moved the Swiss above the Czech Republic at the top of the Division 2A table. They will now compete in the 2016-17 Rugby Europe Trophy, which replaces the European Nations Cup Division 1B competition and is played over one season instead of a two-year cycle, alongside Portugal, Moldova, Ukraine, Netherlands and Poland.
As well as leapfrogging the Czechs in the league table, Switzerland move above them in the World Rugby Rankings, a gain of one and a quarter points resulting in the nations trading places in 33rd and 34th respectively.
"This is a landmark day in the history of Swiss Rugby. However, the toughest part is yet to come: the teams which we will face in the higher division are of a whole new calibre"
Switzerland did the damage in the first half by scoring four tries to one in reply, before goal-kicking scrum-half Simon Perrod completed the job after the break with four penalties, taking his personal points tally in the match to 20.
"This is a landmark day in the history of Swiss Rugby. However, the toughest part is yet to come: the teams which we will face in the higher division are of a whole new calibre," said Sébastien Dupoux, national technical director of the Swiss Rugby Union.
LATVIA MOVE INTO TOP 50
Latvia signed off their ENC Division 2B campaign in style with a bonus-point win over champions-elect Lithuania.
Trailing Lithuania by six points in the table with one game left to play, Latvia knew they had no chance of claiming the title at Lithuania’s expense.
However, they signed off in style with second-row Maris Streikiss bagging a brace in a record 37-7 victory that lifts them up five places to 50th in the World Rugby Rankings.
Lithuania, who held an 11-place advantage over Latvia in the rankings prior to kick-off, lose 1.77 rankings points to slip four places to 45th, Madagascar, Kazakhstan, Trinidad and Tobago and the Cook Islands all benefitting from their demise.
Lying midway between the Lithuania and Latvia in the rankings are Division 2A side Malta, who bounced back from a defeat to Switzerland with a 30-9 win over bottom-of-the-table Israel in front of 2,500 spectators at the Hibernians Stadium in Kordin.
In completing the double over Israel, Malta move up a couple of places in the rankings to 48th, while Israel drop below Luxembourg to 62nd.
SERBIA SURVIVE SCARE
In Division 2C, third place Serbia edged bottom-of-the-table Denmark, 23-20. They gain a fraction under half a ranking point but stay 80th in the world.
For the second week running, Serbia had classy centre Marko Gvozdenovic to thank for the victory as it was his try and penalty that helped to overturn a seven-point deficit going into the final 10 minutes of the match.
Elsewhere, runaway Division 2D champions Bosnia and Herzegovina rise six places to 75th on the back of a 33-17 win over second place Norway in Oslo.
Norway led by five points at the start of the second half after scoring their third try, but Bosnia and Herzegovina rattled off 19 unanswered points to avoid a shock defeat.
The loss of 1.63 rankings points sees Norway slip three places to 91st.
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