Germany return to top 30 in World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini
A 23-18 win over Poland in the rankings play-off semi-finals of the 2023 Rugby Europe Championship leads to a gain of four places.
Although the men’s Six Nations enjoyed a rest weekend, three Rugby World Cup 2023-qualified teams were in action in the Rugby Europe Championship.
On Saturday, Portugal came from behind to beat neighbours Spain 27-10 in Lisbon and qualify for the tournament’s grand final.
Os Lobos will play defending champions Georgia on 19 March, after the Lelos ran in four tries to secure a 31-7 victory against Romania in Tbilisi on Sunday.
Below, we pick out a player from each team who impressed.
Scrum-half Samuel Marques has long been a match-winner for Os Lobos and he swung the momentum in his side’s favour decisively against Spain.
Trailing 10-7 at half-time, Marques struck two difficult penalties in the early stages of the second half to put Portugal into a lead they would not relinquish.
He highlighted his sniping ability at the breakdown with nine minutes to play, sneaking through a gap in the Spanish defence to touch down and take his personal tally for the match to 17 points.
Marques turned 34 in December, but he remains an integral cog in the Portuguese machine as they build towards Rugby World Cup 2023.
A real captain’s performance from Merab Sharikadze in Tbilisi as Georgia worked hard to beat Romania and book their place in the grand final.
Sharikadze picked an astute support line in the 10th minute to take a pass from Vasil Lobzhanidze and score the opening try of the match.
He then produced a subtle offload in the move that almost led to his centre partner Giorgi Kveseladze touching down and ran an excellent dummy line later in the first half that distracted the Oaks defence as Tedo Abzhandadze fed Alexander Todua to score.
Sharikadze did not shirk his defensive duties at the Avchala Stadium, either, as the Lelos withstood periods of Romanian pressure to claim a victory that was more difficult than the scoreline might suggest.
Having built a 10-point lead within 10 minutes in Tbilisi, Georgia were able to keep Romania at arm’s length for much of the match before adding gloss to the win in the final play.
To their credit Romania refused to capitulate and enjoyed spells of possession that frustrated their hosts.
Number eight Andre Gorin was a big factor in that, putting his body on the line and playing a pivotal role in the lineout drive that ended in replacement hooker Marian Capatana scoring his side’s only try.
It was an unexpected source of points given the Romanian lineout had faltered for much of the previous hour, and the Oaks ultimately paid the price for missing tackles and conceding turnovers.