• Kyodo

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Japan climbed two spots in the world rankings to ninth, according to World Rugby’s announcement on Monday, two days after clinching the Pacific Nations Cup with a 34-20 victory over the United States.

With a little over a month to go until the 2019 Rugby World Cup begins in Japan, the Brave Blossoms surpassed No. 11 Argentina and No. 10 Fiji to equal their highest-ever rank.

The top three teams in the world — New Zealand, Wales and Ireland — retained their respective positions.

Japan, ranked ninth for the first time since February 2016, began the Pacific Nations Cup with a 34-21 win over Fiji late last month.

The Brave Blossoms defeated Tonga 41-7 on Aug. 3 before wrapping up with a win over the United States in Fiji and claiming their third Pacific Nations Cup title.

Japan faces No. 5 South Africa on Sept. 6 in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, in its final warm-up match before the World Cup gets underway on Sept. 20.

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