Hong Kong ranking slips after Tunisia loss
Hong Kong has slipped three places in the IRB world rankings, to 30, as a result of their loss to Tunisia last weekend. But Hong Kong Rugby Football Union officials insisted the move to venture outside Asia and play new opponents was worth it.
'There is no shame in slipping down the rankings as the main goal in playing Tunisia was to use the two tests as a build-up to the Asian Five Nations,' said Ivan Torpey, HKRFU head of performance.
Hong Kong met Tunisia for the first time in a fully fledged test series this month, at home and away. They won the home encounter 25-12 but lost 29-9 last Saturday in Tunis. This defeat resulted in Hong Kong falling from 27 to 30 in the world rankings.
'Moving outside Asia has exposed the players to several new things and in the long run will benefit our preparations. How much it will benefit - we will find out shortly,' Torpey said.
Hong Kong will travel next week to Al Ain, in the United Arab Emirates, where they will kick-off their Asian Five Nations campaign against the Arabian Gulf. This will be followed by games against Japan, Kazakhstan and South Korea next month.
While Torpey put on a brave face, the tumble down the IRB rankings will still be a disappointment to Hong Kong whose avowed aim is to move up the rankings and challenge Asia's top two-ranked teams Japan (18) and South Korea (23).
Although the HKRFU might hold the view that the Koreans are ranked third in Asia - after Hong Kong defeated them last year - the IRB rankings prove that they are still ahead where it counts.
'If we beat them in the Asian Five Nations, we will definitely move up the rankings again. That is our goal,' Torpey said.
He added: 'We'll continue looking at playing other countries close to us in the IRB rankings. We can only benefit from playing against them.'
Hong Kong's highest IRB ranking has been 27 and they have not fallen out of the top 30 in the past five years.