On a weekend of very little movement in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings Mexico were the standout team after making a winning return to international rugby after an 18-month absence.

Mexico lost 35-14 to Cayman Islands when they last graced the test arena in December 2022 but they turned that result around to beat the same opponents 20-10 in North Zone Round 1B of the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Men’s Championship 2024.

Los Serpientes defied the extreme humidity in Grand Cayman, and their lack of game-time together, to take command of the scoreboard early on.

Only five minutes had passed inside the Truman Bodden Stadium before Mexico had crossed Cayman Islands’ line, with winger Enrique Fioranti opening their account.

With Santiago Maya knocking over the extra two points and a penalty, Mexico led 10-0 as the opening quarter drew to a close.

Cayman Islands clawed three points back when Conal Keane, their matchwinner in the December 2022 meeting, struck over a 36th minute penalty, and the score stayed that way until half-time.

Maya’s second penalty of the match shortly after the restart restored Mexico’s double-digit lead before scrum-half Andreas Ramos put the game beyond Cayman Islands with Mexico’s second try approaching the hour mark.

Had the scoreline remained 20-3 Mexico would have equalled their highest-ever positioning in the rankings of 42nd. But Cayman Islands denied them when they closed the gap thanks to a try from hooker Alex Mansfield, which Keane converted.

Instead, Mexico have to be content with a climb of five places to 43rd, while Cayman Islands drop four to 53rd.

Bahamas returns ends in defeat

In North Zone Round 1A, Bermuda beat Bahamas 35-5 but the result did not affect either team’s position as there were 31 places and 9.44 points between the teams before kick-off.

It was Bermuda’s first win of the year and a good response to their 19-14 defeat to Jamaica in their opening match of the RAN Men’s Championship 2024.

For Bahamas, a return to test rugby was a success in itself as it had been seven long years – since they beat the Dominican Republic in June 2017 – that they had played at this level.

Neither of the matches in the Asia Rugby Men’s Championship 2024 had any impact on the rankings as Hong Kong China and Korea enjoyed big wins against much lower-ranked opposition.

Hong Kong China conceded the first try of the match at home to United Arab Emirates but then reeled off eight of their own. The 36 places separating the teams in the world rankings ultimately showed as they emerged with a commanding 52-5 win.

There were try doubles for Harry Laidler and Tommy Hill, the latter also kicking 12 points. John McCormick-Houston, Paul Altier, Alex Post and Charles Higson-Smith also crossed for Hong Kong China.

There were no surprises, either, at the Namdong Stadium in Incheon, as Korea beat Malaysia 55-5.

Hwang Jeongwook bagged a hat-trick, while Lee Jinkyu scored twice. Kim Chan Ju, Lee Hyeonje, Jeong Yeonsik and Lee Yongun also managed a try each for Korea.

Malaysia's solitary try was scored by Shobrey Amok in the second half.

Photo: Cayman Islands Rugby