However the top three did remain the same as ever. Australia sitting pretty as the ultimate Rugby League nation followed by New Zealand and England.
The Kiwi’s success in the Four Nations does mean they close the gap on Australia when it comes to points between the nations positions. They’ll be hoping can they continue this form and eventually de-throne the Australians.
Fellow Four Nations side Samoa move up three places into the coveted 4th spot, often seen as ‘the best of the rest’, however their performances in the Four Nations showed them to be a very strong side.
France and Fiji fall in turn for Samoa’s rise. France losing ground after only coming second in the European Cup whilst Fiji lost their Four Nations qualifier to Samoa back in May meaning they were out of action this Autumn.
The European Cup has meant significant moves for both Scotland and Ireland.
Scotland, who went on to win the European Cup, moved from 11th to 8th in the rankings. After a solid world cup campaign which saw them reach the quarter-finals they can only hope to build on this and continue to move up the rankings.
One place above them however is the Irish who also won two of their three European Cup games meaning a 3 place jump for them also. Much like Scotland they have built on a successful world cup campaign and will be aiming to win the European Cup or maybe feature in the Four Nations sooner rather than later.
Wales and Papua New Guinea were the biggest losers. Wales dropped to 9th behind home nations counterparts Ireland and Scotland after failing to win a match in the European Cup. Papua New Guinea haven’t played since the World Cup.
In between the two sides is the USA who also haven’t featured this year. Whilst Italy are slightly behind in 12th.
Surprisingly pacific island sides Tonga and Cook Islands both were overtaken by ‘lesser’ Rugby League nations in the form of Serbia, Russia and Canada who have been competed more regularly. For all of these sides a World Cup place would be the ideal target and platform.
It’s nice to see movement in the RLIF rankings which for so long have been the same old story. However it is clear that more needs to be done to promote and develop the game on an international level. This is something I am going to cover in an upcoming article with some propositions of my own as well. The top 20 rank sides are in order below this article.
Top 20 ranked sides
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Cook Islands
Belgium, Greece, Lebanon, Malta, Netherlands, Denmark, Jamaica, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, South Africa and Hungary all follow in the rankings. All these teams have points to their names.