The New Zealand Kiwis have moved to number one in the International Rugby League world rankings which have been announced after the conclusion of the 2019 international programme.
The Kiwis have built on their 2018 victories over Australia and England and their recent successes against Great Britain and Tonga to take the number one position.
Tonga remain in fourth spot but their historic victory over the second-placed Kangaroos has meant that they close the gap on England who now sit in third place.
New Zealand coach, Michael Maguire said “This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition.
“The International Rugby League Oceania Cup is a fantastic development for the Kiwis and the nations in this region. It provides a meaningful competition and is a real focus for our international programme.”
Papua New Guinea is one of the big movers in both the men’s and women’s rankings. The men have been recognised for their progress in the past 12 months as they move from 10th to 6th place and in the women’s section, from 6th place to 4th.
Kumuls head coach, Michael Marum sees the rise up the rankings as a natural part of their journey saying: “The PNG Kumuls going from 10th spot to 6th spot is really good for us. We can only go higher with more international fixtures.”
Orchids coach, Bagelo Solien commented:
“Going up two spots from 6th to 4th is pleasing after two test matches and we can only get better from here. It is good for the Women’s game nationally and internationally”
Commenting on the latest rankings, International Rugby League chief executive officer, Nigel Wood said:
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate New Zealand on achieving their number one position. It is fully deserved based upon their recent excellent performances with 4 wins from their last 5 international games.
“Tonga has possibly been the story of the recent internationals and they deserve all the plaudits that they have received. They have certainly cemented their place as a genuine top four-nation and, along with other Pacific nations, throws the competition wide open for Rugby League World Cup 2021.”
Latest Rankings November 2019
Following the completion of the mid-season internationals and commencement of European qualifying for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, the latest edition of the RLIF world rankings has been announced.
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.
“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%