Date: 18/12/15

The new World Rankings, issued by the Rugby League International Federation, have set up the 2016 international season perfectly.

The Four Nations tournament, to be played in the UK next autumn, will offer England, Australia and New Zealand the opportunity of going in to the 2017 World Cup as the number one ranked nation, a position currently held by the Kiwis.

Among the big movers are two nations who will compete in the 2016 World Cup Qualifiers – Europe; Spain who go up five places to 21 and the winners of European Championship B in 2015, Serbia, who now sit just outside the top ten.

“Serbia’s end of the year ranking tells a story of the seasons behind us,” said SRL vice-president Nebojša Sretenović. “Our squads in 2015 have been almost exclusively drawn from our domestic competition and I congratulate our players and the coaching staff for their results against countries that played in the last World Cup.

“The ranking gives us much motivation going into next year which will be our most important to date.” Wales move up one place after winning the 2015 European Championship, as do Ireland, while Scandinavian nations Sweden and Denmark both move up two places.

Jamaica also go up two places to 27th after excellent performances in the recent World Cup Qualifiers – Americas, when they narrowly lost to the USA and drew with Canada, who are much higher ranked. The USA stay in 10th place after their recent qualification for RLWC2017.

“We are happy with our performances against the world number 10 and 13 ranked teams in the qualifiers,” said JRL director of rugby Romeo Monteith. “We need an Americas cup to move the sport forward in our region and all the nations, along with the RLIF, are working hard to provide a clear international calendar here.”

The other big movers in the rankings are Malta, who also move up five places.

Full Rankings below

1 (1) New Zealand 2 (2) Australia 3 (3) England 4 (4) Samoa 5 (5) France 6 (7) Ireland 7 (6) Fiji 8 (9) Wales 9 (8) Scotland 10 (10) USA 11 (14) Serbia 12 (12) Italy 13 (13) Canada 14 (11) PNG 15 (16) Russia 16 (15) Tonga 17 (18) Belgium 18 (23) Malta 19 (19) Germany 20 (20) Lebanon 21 (26) Spain 22 (17) Cook Islands 23 (22) Ukraine 24 (24) Greece 25 (27) Denmark 26 (21) Norway 27 (29) Jamaica 28 (25) Netherlands 29 (31) Sweden 30 (30) Czech Republic 31 (28) South Africa 32 (32) Niue 33 (33) Hungary 34 (34) Latvia 35 (35) Morocco