Results from a busy weekend in the Rugby Europe International Championship and the Rugby Africa Cup preliminaries led to plenty of movement in the World Rugby Men's Rankings, including improved positions for the Netherlands, Poland and Ghana.

The Netherlands move above Brazil and into 25th place after enhancing their hopes of playing off for a place in the Rugby Europe Championship in 2021 with a second straight win in the Rugby Europe Trophy, beating hosts Germany 37-7. Germany fall below Belgium to 28th as a result of the defeat.


The match in in Heidelberg was evenly poised at 10-7 to the visitors but the Dutch pulled away in the second half, scoring 27 unanswered points. Tries from winger Jordy Hop topped and tailed the Dutch victory with their other scores coming from fly-half Jasey van Kampen, a penalty try and the boot of inside-centre David Weersma.

Also in the Trophy, Switzerland came unstuck at home to the lower-ranked Poland, who won 23-20 thanks to a late penalty from Jędrzej Nowicki, his sixth of the match.

Poland jump three places to 34th above Czechia, Ukraine and Zimbabwe, while the Swiss fall to 31st with Chile and Korea the sides to benefit.

Anniversary win for Spain 

Spain celebrated the 20th anniversary of their participation at Rugby World Cup 1999 with a 29-7 win against Hong Kong. Many of the players who represented Los Leones at their only Rugby World Cup to date were in attendance in Madrid, while long-serving captain Jaime Nava was presented with a commemorative jersey.

In what was the first test meeting between the teams, Hong Kong were left to rue missed points from the tee as Spain took a commanding 17-0 lead into half-time following tries from number eight Lionel Tauli and full-back John Bell and seven points from the boot of Andrea Rabago.

The second half was tighter with Spain adding a third try from second-row Lucas Guillaume on 65 minutes before Hong Kong put their first points on the board in the 77th minute with a try by scrum-half Bryn Phillips converted by Paul Altier, to bring the score to 22-7. Rabago closed out the scoring when he converted his own try.

With only one-hundredth of a point on offer for the win, Spain remain in 16th place in the rankings with Hong Kong five places further back in 21st.

Ivory Coast and Ghana progress in Rugby Africa Cup

Away from Europe, the restructured Rugby Africa Cup began with qualifier wins for Ghana and the Ivory Coast who both now enter the pool phase of the expanded competition.

Ghana were giving up 21 rankings places to their opponents Botswana before kick-off and trailed 17-12 at half-time. However, the Eagles fought back in the second half and a four-try salvo between the 52nd and 73rd minutes saw them win 36-25.

With the victory, Ghana climb three places to 89th and Botswana drop five to 76th.

In front of their home fans, the Ivory Coast dominated Rwanda and put in a ruthless performance to win 60-3. Meité Bakary was in excellent form and capped a man-of-the-match display with two of his team's eight tries.

Ivory Coast will now face Morocco and Kenya in Pool B of the Rugby Africa Cup next June, while Zimbabwe and Tunisia lie in wait for the Ghana Eagles.