Sweden are guaranteed a top-two finish in the Rugby Europe Trophy 2023-24 standings after completing their campaign on Saturday with a 36-24 win at home to Ukraine.

The Swedes had it far from their own way in Trelleborg as they had to come back from a 14-7 half-time deficit to beat Ukraine for the first time at the 10th attempt.

Needing to win a bonus point to overhaul Switzerland at the top of the standings, Sweden showed great resilience to maintain the three-try differential after finishing the game with 13 players.

The winners of the Rugby Europe Trophy 2023-24 will win promotion to the Rugby Europe Championship in 2025 as long as they meet the required entry criteria and Switzerland remain favourites as they still have a game against Ukraine to play knowing that a draw will be enough for them to finish top.

Regardless of the outcome of that match, Sweden are ensured of their best-ever finish at this level of competition for the second tournament running having finished third in 2021-22.

While delighted with the team's progress in his four years in charge, head coach Alex Laybourne wants Sweden to keep raising the bar and continue moving up the World Rugby Men's Rankings powered by Capgemini.

“For us, we still want to get into the (world's) top 30, so there is still a lot more for us to do,” he said.

“I think we just want to keep pushing and do as much as we can.

“There is an ambition for this to be the best Swedish rugby team that there has been. I am delighted for the players because they do really sacrifice a lot.”

Unfortunately for Sweden, they remain one place off their all-time best ranking of 32nd despite the win over Ukraine because no points were offered for a win against a team ranked 8.17 points below them.

Luxembourg close in on record

While Sweden stay 33rd, Rugby Europe Conference 2023-24 Pool B pacesetters Luxembourg were rewarded for their equally hard-fought 18-15 win away to Hungary to the tune of 0.90 points.

With a new improved rating of 42.34 points, Luxembourg have climbed up the rankings to 62nd – two off their best-ever ranking position  – above the United Arab Emirates and Senegal

It has also left them six points clear of Slovenia at the top of the standings, with the teams meeting at Stade de Luxembourg on Saturday 20 April.

Hungary have dropped two places and are now in 73rd with Slovenia and Serbia moving up one position.

The other match in the Conference was a much more one-sided contest, Austria beating Bosnia and Herzegovina 57-17.

While Austria have solidified their presence in 87th with the win, Bosnia and Herzegovina have tumbled down to an all-time low of 100th.

Photo credit: Daniel Storch