Following the release of the new men’s, women’s and wheelchair world rankings by the IRL, there has been some significant movement for some European nations. In the men’s, Serbia – who played the most Test fixtures in 2021 – has risen six places to ninth, the first time they have been in the top 10.
“We are extremely proud of our fully domestic-based squad, everyone participating in the pathways, and our entire organisation who have contributed to this rise in the ranking,” said SRL general secretary, Vladan Kikanovic. “It gives us more strength to continue with developing rugby league in Serbia and throughout the Balkan region. I hope this will help us build a platform for a successful campaign in the 2025 World Cup qualifiers which could see us compete in the elite competition for the first time.”
Ukraine has gained the most, rising 14 places to 25th. UFRL president, Artur Marytrosian, noted: “Our aim now is to be in the top eight nations in Europe. All our structure of domestic competitions from juniors to seniors and our national teams have this target in mind, and we look forward to further announcements on international fixtures to help us achieve our goal.”
Also high risers in the men’s, Netherlands have gone up 11 places to 14th. Head coach Kane Krlic confirmed: “Everyone involved in NRLB can be incredibly proud of their efforts so far. Seven years ago when I was appointed we talked about putting a strong emphasis on a domestic competition, knowing longer term that would serve us better. We didn’t win an international for a few years but we had to believe and stay true to this philosophy. We are now undefeated for five years and we are producing Dutch players with our own culture and DNA. The exciting part is we are not even close to what we want to achieve, and there is still a lot of improvement in the player group and the wider Netherlands Rugby League in general.”
Other notable climbers in the men’s rankings include Bulgaria (up six places to 39th), Czech Republic (up five to 17th) and Turkey (up five to 19th)
Wales are ranked for the first time, at 13th, in the women’s list. “I’m proud that we have three elite pathways; men, wheelchair and now women’s in the world rankings. The amount of work put in by the staff over the last two years has been immense to get the women’s programme running, especially given the challenges of Covid-19. We are looking forward to playing more internationals and achieving our goal of the women’s team being a top four ranked side by 2025,” claimed Wales Rugby League CEO Gareth Kear.
In the wheelchair rankings, Ireland have moved up from eighth to sixth, the highest climbers. “It’s very positive news and reflects the efforts of our players over the last 12 months. I‘m sure that it motivates them to continue to push on and build for the future,” said head coach Damian McCabe.