Wales have regained third place in the new Wheelchair World Rankings after winning their seventh successive Celtic Cup in Edinburgh last month, leapfrogging Australia.
Under new coach Alan Caron, who has returned to the job after playing for Wales at last year’s World Cup, the defending Celtic Cup champions drew with Ireland and beat Scotland to win the tournament on for-and-against.
Serbia have climbed into the top 10 in the men’s IRL World Rankings, while Philippines have taken another step towards becoming the first Asian nation to compete at a Rugby League World Cup.
Serbia are now the 10th ranked men’s team, while Philippines are 13th in the women’s rankings.
Although there was limited international action in the six months up to June 30 following the World Cup at the end of last year, the results of the rankings are significant for future funding and on-field ambitions of nations such as Serbia, Philippines and Wales.
WRL Head of Wheelchair Rugby League, Stephen Jones, said the return to third place would provide a boost for the sport in Wales.
“Its fantastic news that we have again moved to the number three spot in the World Rankings,” Jones said.
“It goes to show that all the hard work that not only the players do on the pitch, but all the work that goes on behind the scenes, does pay off. It also helps us show that the Wheelchair version of our sport is worth sponsors and partners investing in, here in Wales.
“This year, the uncertainty around the European tournament has put the national team in a holding pattern, but with the development of the Wheelchair League that starts next month, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
“This will give us a great starting point to develop at grass roots level in Wales and help us with our ambition on the continuing growth and upwards movement in the IRL world rankings over the next few years.”
The Serbian Rugby League received increased government support after their last upward movement in the World Rankings and Philippines National Rugby League officials hope the rise of the Sampaguitas will also result in greater funding.
Serbia has risen five spots from 15th to sit behind the quarter-finalists at last year’s World Cup in England and ninth-placed France, following away wins over Greece (40-6) and Italy (52-4) in May. Wales men have slipped to 11th as a result.
Philippines are up six placed from 19th at the end of 2022 – the first appearance of the Sampaguitas in the IRL World Rankings – after their 38-0 defeat of Greece in January.
France have also climbed in the women’s rankings, rising above Papua New Guinea to claim fourth spot behind Australia, New Zealand and England, who have narrowed the gap with the second-placed Kiwi Ferns. Wales women remain in ninth place.
IRL chair Troy Grant said the latest rankings was recognition for those nations who had played fixtures up to June 30 and he was looking forward to a significant increase in international matches later in the year.
“On behalf of the IRL board, I congratulate Serbia, Philippines, Wales and the other nations who have moved upwards in the IRL World Rankings,” Grant said.
“The latest rankings demonstrate that nations who are active can climb the ladder and seek to benefit from their improved position through increased support from governments and sponsors.
“With Tonga’s historic tour of England and some other developments set to be announced about fixtures involving many of our leading international teams, there is so much to look forward to this year.
“The IRL board is meeting in Singapore next week and it is hoped that there will be some exciting announcements about international rugby league for not only this year, but in coming years.”
The IRL World Rankings are determined by the following criteria:
- Teams are awarded ranking points each time they play a sanctioned international fixture;
- Result and margin: The bigger the win, the more points the winning team receives and the fewer points are awarded to the loser;
- Strength of opponent: The higher the ranking of the opponent the greater the weighting of the result.
- Importance of the match: Games in official competition are weighted higher than bi-lateral arranged games. Rugby League World Cup games carry the greatest weighting, and;
- More recent games are weighted higher than older games and only games since the 2017 World Cup are considered.
- The rankings reward teams who are active and win games.