Tonga break into world's top ten
October 5, 2011
Tonga's players may not have done enough to reach the quarters but they were ecstatic after their win over France © Getty Images
Tonga have risen to ninth place in the IRB Rankings on the back of their heroics against France in Wellington on Sunday.
The Polynesians, who have never before featured in the top ten, went into the final weekend of the Rugby World Cup pool stages in 13th but they rose four places on the back of their sensational 19-14 victory over Les Bleus at the Westpac Stadium. The target for Tonga now will be to build on their success given that no side from the Pacific Islands has ever before broken into the top eight of the rankings, which were introduced in October 2003.
Remarkably, Tonga now sit directly below France, who have dropped from fifth to eighth, thus equalling their lowest ever ranking. There was also bad news for Scotland, who saw their proud record of always having made the quarter-finals of the World Cup ended by a defeat to England on Sunday, with Andy Robinson's side slipping to tenth on account of their defeat in Auckland and Tonga's surprise success over the French.
The top four remains the same, with New Zealand still leading the way from South Africa, Australia and England. However, there could be some movement this weekend, with the Springboks and the Wallabies going head to head for a place in the last four, with England, who face France in the quarters, currently breathing down the Aussies' necks.
Fifth-placed Ireland could also break back into the top four if they defeat sixth-placed Wales in Wellington and results go their way elsewhere.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9