Namibia moves into top 20 of IRB rankings… preparing for Zimbos

Windhoek: The Welwitschias’ World Cup preparations received added momentum following the team moving into the top 20 of the latest International Rugby Board (IRB) world rankings released this week.

Namibia’s slight but positive movement from 21st to 20th position was amplified by the team’s recent Africa Cup Division 1A victory over Kenya.

The Welwitschias had also earlier recorded convincing victories against Russia in the Windhoek Draught Friendship Series, which saw Namibia climb to 21 from 22nd position. Namibia replaces Spain in 20th place and the Spaniards now sit in 21st position.

Namibia is ranked 2nd in Africa, behind South Africa who dropped from 2nd place to 4th on the latest world rankings. Zimbabwe sit 3rd on the Africa rankings, with Kenya and Morocco in 4th and 5th places respectively.

The All Blacks of New Zealand still top the world rankings, followed by Ireland in 2nd place and Australia in 3rd place. The world rankings are calculated using a ‘points exchange’ system, in which sides take points off each other.

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. There is an allowance for home advantage.

Points exchanges are doubled during the World Cup finals to recognise the unique importance of the event, but all other full international matches are treated the same, to be as fair as possible to countries playing a different mix of friendly and competitive matches across the world.

Any match that is not a full international between two member countries does not count. All member countries have a rating, typically between 0 and 100. The top side in the world normally has a rating above 90.

Despite the positives in the rankings, the Welwitschias face the daunting task of negotiating their way past an equally determined Zimbabwe, when they lock horns in their Africa Cup match at the Hage Geingob Stadium on Saturday.

Namibia and Zimbabwe currently share the top spot on the Africa Division 1A leader board, with the Welwitschias taking the top spot on a points difference. The winner of Saturday’s match will be crowned African Champions for 2015.