The Sables have edged closer to earning a place among the top 30 rugby nations in the world following their historic 24-22 victory over higher-ranked Brazil in the opening game of the World Rugby sanctioned Stellenbosch Challenge in South Africa on Sunday.
World Rugby officially published the new official rankings yesterday following the latest round of the international matches played around the world at the weekend.
And Zimbabwe, buoyed by their hard-fought win over Brazil in the first-ever meeting between the two teams were among the highest climbers after overtaking Colombia and Switzerland and moving up two places from position 34 to 32nd in the rankings.
In contrast, the Brazilians, who went into the opening match of the tournament ranked 27th, dropped one position down the ladder to 28th and risk losing further ground if they lose to number 35-ranked Kenya in the Stellenbosch Challenge third-place play-off match on Saturday.
Zimbabwe on the other hand will have an opportunity to further improve their ranking when they face their perennial nemesis Namibia in the final on the same day.
Having played second fiddle to the Namibians in recent years, the Sables would need to put up a better second-half performance after they almost surrendered a healthy 17-0 halftime lead against Brazil.
Sables head coach Brendan Dawson was nevertheless delighted that his charges were able to secure a vital win despite their second-half meltdown.
“I’m very proud of the boys and that we came away with a win. Beating a team that is ranked number 27 in the world is a great achievement, we are ranked 35th in the world so it’s a really big achievement and I’m very proud of the boys,” Dawson said.
“It was a game of two halves, we played really well in the first half and we allowed them to come back in the second half but the positives are massive. We learnt a lot from the Cheetahs game and brought it into this game. I was really proud of everybody but there is still a lot to work on to make sure that we win when we take on Namibia on Saturday,” the former Sables captain said.
The Sables survived a spirited second-half onslaught from Brazil to grind out an important win against the higher-ranked South American side.
Zimbabwe’s hard-fought win ensured they booked a date with their fierce rivals Namibia in the tournament final to be played at the same venue on Saturday.
The Namibians, who are expected to pose the biggest challenge for Zimbabwe’s bid to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup made a statement of their intentions to win the competition after beating Kenya 60-24 in the second match of the four-team competition.