The Zimbabwe senior rugby team, the Sables, who returned from a successful tour of duty in Kenya with the Victoria Cup yesterday, continued their upward surge on the IRB World Rankings after moving three places up from number 38 to 35th.
Prior to Saturday’s 21-26 victory over Kenya, the Sables had already secured the Victoria Cup title but still needed to continue with their winning streak to avoid a slump on the rankings.
Following the win at the 30 000-seater Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi — which was their fifth consecutive win this season — the Sables rose above Lithuania, Germany and Tunisia to their highest ranking since 2003.
By leapfrogging the Tunisians, the Sables are now ranked the fourth best rugby playing nation on the continent behind South Africa, Namibia and North Africans Morocco.
The IRB World Rankings are calculated using a “Points Exchange” system, in which sides take points off each other based on the match result.
Whatever one side gains, the other loses.
The exchanges are based on the match result, the relative strength of each team, and the margin of victory, and there is an allowance for home advantage.
Due to their impressive run, the resurgent Sables have now moved an impressive 14 places on the IRB rankings since early last month when they went to Uganda for the Confederation of African Rugby Africa Cup Division 1B tournament in Uganda.
Then the Sables were ranked a lowly 48th below both the Ugandan Cranes and Madagascar, who they went on to beat convincingly to secure promotion to the top division whose teams have the right to compete in the World Cup qualifiers.
Back in 1991 Zimbabwe went to the second Rugby World Cup ranked number two in Africa behind only the Springboks and exactly 20 years later playing at the 2015 might just be the main incentive for the current team if they continue doing well.