The Rugby League International Federation has been a complete and utter joke for decades now. Pretty much any idea this group has come up with over the last 30 years has hurt the game.
If you need any indication that shows how disconnected the RLIF is, just take a look at their “World Rankings”.
Now, when you look at this list, keep in mind that the RLIF came up with a system that awards points based on a few different things. They are:
1. The result of the match.
2. The margin of victory or defeat.
3. The relative strength of opposition faced.
4. The date of the match. (Recent matches are weighted more heavily)
5. The “importance” of the match. (World Cup matches are given greater weighting than one off games)
Got that? Now, strap in and tell me if this system comes up with a World Ranking system that looks like it lines up at all with the actual strength of each of these nations:
Official RLIF World Rankings:
1 New Zealand 897.00
2 Australia 719.00
3 England 655.00
4 Samoa 280.00
5 France 209.00
6 Ireland 162.00
7 Fiji 147.00
8 Wales 132.00
9 Scotland 121.00
10 USA 102.00
11 Serbia 72.00
12 Italy 65.00
13 Canada 62.00
14 PNG 60.00
15 Russia 46.00
16 Tonga 40.00
17 Belgium 40.00
18 Malta 32.00
19 Germany 28.00
20 Lebanon 27.00
21 Spain 26.00
22 Cook Islands 23.00
23 Ukraine 22.00
24 Greece 21.00
25 Denmark 20.00
26 Norway 19.00
27 Jamaica 16.00
28 Netherlands 15.00
29 Sweden 15.00
30 Czech Republic 14.00
31 South Africa 13.00
32 Niue 4.00
33 Hungary 2.00
34 Latvia 2.00
35 Morocco 0.00
First of all, I have no problems with the top three teams and how they are ranked. I do believe the likes of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga would beat England if they were able to play them on a regular basis, but for now, its hard to argue against England being in 3rd place.
Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s place on this is ridiculous. These nations produce only a handful of professional players between them at best. I’m not talking about the ridiculous grandparent rules, I’m talking about players who were born and raised in these nations, who go through their junior development systems, and who go on to play professional Rugby League.
Try naming 10 players born in these nations who are current professional players. I can tell you, even for me, I’d struggle.
Their positions on this list scream of the RFL trying to pump its own tires in an effort to get one over sponsors and government organisations to secure funding. Something that isn’t working for them as much these days as it once did.
Anybody that thinks that Tonga is only the 16th best Rugby League nation in the world has no connection at all to what actually happens in Rugby League. Good luck finding a professional club anywhere in the world that doesn’t have at least one Tongan player in their squad.
There is not a great deal between Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and PNG. On any given day they could all beat one another. Samoa and Fiji tend to win a few more times than Tonga and PNG, but all four are of very similar strength.
Imagine what its like for the United States and Canada, two places that have solid, self sustaining Rugby League competitions that require no input at all from any other nation, yet who find themselves further down this list than countries that bring in a bunch of blow ins from other countries any time they play a game. Does that seem fair?
The Cook Islands, who constantly punch above their weight when they take the field, find themselves in 22nd place behind Spain. SPAIN! Spain is really only just getting started in the game. The Cook Islands Rugby League Association was formed in 1962. The very first game of international Rugby League Spain ever played was in 2014!
Does that seem like this ranking system works?
One of my favourite parts of this rankings list is how Morocco, who have no points. They have won 4 of their last 5 games (Dating from 2008-2011) and yet they find themselves way down the list from Italy and Belgium, two teams they beat during that run.
The RLIF has no real power within the sport, and if I had my way the ARL and NZRL would form a break away organisation along with other Southern Hemisphere nations to form a true governing body that would oversee Rugby League in this part of the world that would hold some sort of relevancy, some sort of power, and that was run by people who have a connection to the game where it is at its strongest.
If we have a Rugby League European Federation, why can’t we have an organisation that oversees Rugby League in Australasia, Polynesia and Melanesia? One that is relevant to the nations that it oversees. One that doesn’t put in place a rankings system that is somehow heavily weighed towards European teams and somehow downplays the strength of south Pacific nations who are some of the strongest Rugby League playing nations in the world?
Like most things put out by the RLIF, these power rankings aren’t worth paying any attention to unless you are mocking them.