Wales are ranked number three in the world as the official International Rugby League (IRL) Wheelchair Rugby League World Rankings are issued for the very first time.
The world rankings only consider full international matches played over the past four-year period, and are based upon the result of the game and the strength of the opponent, with the most recent results carrying the most weight. World Cup games carry more weight than standard international matches.
During this period, Wales have remained unbeaten in the Celtic Cup in matches against Scotland and Ireland, having won the annual trophy on four successive years between 2016 and 2019. They also ran second ranked England close in two matches at the end of last year.
The Welsh squad contain players like record cap holder Alan Caron, who has played in 32 of Wales’ 36 matches in this discipline (and played more times for a single Wales side than any other person), and 21-year old Andrew Higgins, who has punched a record 100 goals for the Wales Wheelchair side and was also named in this year’s Wales Students running rugby league squad.
Number one side France can lay claim to have been the “inventors” of the wheelchair game and are the current world cup holders. England are a very close second after a very strong showing in 2019 which saw victories against France followed by a successful tour to Australia.
Wheelchair rugby league has steadily grown over the past ten years and now features eight nations in the rankings. This will certainly increase over the next 18 months as Norway and the USA are nations who will compete at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in the discipline.
Wales head coach Steve Jones said: “I am so proud that we’ve been ranked third in the first ever Wheelchair Rugby League World Rankings. It just goes to show the commitment, skill and pride that the squad have for our version of the sport, along with far we have come in such a short time.”
Pippa Britton, who chairs the IRL Wheelchair Working Group commented: “This is another welcome advance for wheelchair rugby league as we prepare for RLWC2021 where all the athletes will be treated equally.
“I congratulate France, they are the pioneers of this sport and continue to play a leading role in its development.”
Full Rankings are:
1 France 100%
2 England 97%
3 Wales 77%
4 Australia 46%
5 Italy 43%
6 Scotland 29%
7 Spain 25%
8 Ireland 14%