Following the completion of the mid-season internationals and commencement of European qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, the Rugby League International Federation has announced its latest world rankings.
Tonga, after their 38-22 victory over Samoa in the Polynesian Cup, have consolidated fourth position – gained after their run to the semi final of the 2017 RLWC – and closed the gap on the three nations above them, leaving their head coach Kristian Woolf calling for more matches against the higher-ranked nations.
“It is affirmation that all the steps taken towards showing the promise of the game for our country and team are being formally recognised,” he said. “Our next steps are to secure more fixtures against the top three countries.
“We have proved over the last two years that we can compete with them, and we believe we have earned the right to more opportunities. That is the goal of the Mate Ma’a Tonga Rugby League now – to secure consistent Test matches against the world powers of Rugby League.”
England’s win over New Zealand in Denver sets up the three match autumn series between the nations for the Baskerville Shield as a battle for second place, and Ukraine’s win over Malta in European Championship C – South has seen them rise a place as they aim for the next stage of World Cup play-offs to be held in 2019.
RLIF CEO Nigel Wood commented: “The twice-yearly world rankings not only reflect achievement but also the increased level of Rugby League being played across the globe. It is another impetus behind planning more international fixtures and tournaments to cater for the greater demand of nations to test themselves at the highest level.
“The progress in South America is encouraging and the beginning of the road to the next World Cup in England should see more moves in the rankings by the end of the year. It is significant to see the ambition of nations such as Tonga, and I wish them well in their discussions to arrange fixtures that will whet the appetite of spectators and players across the world.”
The world rankings are based on a five year period of sanctioned Test matches, with more recent games carrying a greater value. Calculation is also based on the ranking of the opposition faced.
World Rankings as July 12th 2018
New Zealand 72.7%
Czech Republic 2.2%
Cook Islands 1.3%
South Africa 1.3%
El Salvador 0.7%
Solomon Islands 0.4%
Hong Kong 0.2%