PAPUA New Guinea’s ranking in rugby league has plummeted to 11th place, a spot behind the USA.
This is the Kumuls lowest placing since the rankings was started by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) in 2007.
The RLIF released its rankings over the weekend and the Kumuls’ fortunes over the last 24 months was reflected in its slide down three spots from 8th place.
Australia retained its top spot despite losing the Four Nations final to New Zealand. The Kiwis and England make up the top three.
PNG Rugby Football League chief executive officer Brad Tassell said the main reason PNG was rated outside the top 10 was that it did not play enough test matches.
“It’s pretty plain to see, that we (Kumuls) need to play more internationals,” Tassell said from Port Moresby yesterday.
The Kumuls were ranked as high as fourth place heading into the 2008 World Cup, in Australia, and this saw them play the top three nations — Australia, New Zealand and England.
“PNG needs to play the other Pacific Island nations on a regular basis — if not annually — than at least every second year.
“These matches have to be fully-fledged tests in order for us to gain the points for our ranking to improve,” Tassell said.
He said the annual Prime Ministers XIII fixture was not recognised as a test match. The Kumuls played Tonga in a one-off test at home in October this year, winning the match 32-18 and did accrue points, however this was not enough to hold its No. 8 spot.
The USA, who rose in ranking from 9th to 10th, won two matches at the last World Cup, beating Wales (24-16) and the Cook Islands (32-20) before losing to Scotland (22-8) in the inter-group stage.
PNG, on the other hand, did not win a match at the tournament in England, losing narrowly to France (9-8) before suffering heavy losses to Samoa (38-4) and New Zealand (56-10) in the pool stage for an early exit.
Tassell said the PNGRFL had pushed for a Pacific Nations Cup to be revived at an RLIF meeting earlier in the year and were told by the world body and its main backer, Australia’s National Rugby League, that funding for the Pacific Island nations would be made available as part of its strategic plan to develop and promote the code in the region.
“The Pacific nations need to be playing each other regularly and proposed a revival of the Pacific Cup but we (PNGRFL) cannot fund the tournaments ourselves, we need help and that’s where the RLIF and NRL come in.”
Tassell said in Europe and the United Kingdom, the nations were separated into three tiers, with countries playing each other on a regular basis. He said the situation was not the same for PNG and the Pacific.
He said it cost the PNGRFL K150,000 to bring Tonga up for the test in October and it was not sustainable without outside help.
Tassell said to host a Pacific Nations tournament in the country would cost between K3-4 million.Tassell pointed out that although Samoa, who was ranked as the fourth best country, played several tests this year, they were in danger of slipping back down the rankings if they did not play a test next year.
“Samoa played three tests in the Four Nations this year and that got them points, but next year they won’t be playing any tests because the tournament goes to the Northern Hemisphere.
“That will affect their ranking as well.”
Tassell said he was waiting on the RLIF and NRL for a decision on staging the Pacific Cup in PNG next year. If that was not feasible then he would push to have the Kumuls play a test match against Fiji during the ANZAC representative weekend, where Australia would play New Zealand on a Friday followed by a Saturday internationals between PNG and Fiji (Melanesian Cup) and Samoa and Tonga (Polynesian Cup).
The Sunday rep fixture would be the City-Country match to round it off.
He said the PNGRFL would continue lobbying for more test for the Kumuls every year until the next World Cup in 2017.
Rankings (previous positions in brackets): 1 Australia (1), 2 New Zealand (2), 3 England (3), 4 Samoa (7), 5 France (4), 6 Fiji (5), 7 Ireland (10), 8 Scotland (11), 9 Wales (6), 10 USA (9), 11 Papua New Guinea (8), 12 Italy (12).
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Downer Rugby League 9s World Cup
- PNG Kumuls 0 Australia 26
- PNG Kumuls 18 New Zealand Kiwis 18
- PNG Kumuls 23 USA Tomahawks 10
Pacific Test Results
201 9 - PNG Kumuls 28 Great Britain Lions 10
2019 - Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 20
2019 - PNG Kumls 6 Samoa 24
2018 - PNG Kumuls 26 Fiji Bati 14
2017 - PNG Kumuls 32 Cook Islands 22
2016 - PNG Kumuls 24 Fiji Bati 22
2015- Fiji Bati 22 PNG Kumuls 22
World Cup Results
Round 1 : PNG Kumuls 50 Wales 6
Round 2: PNG Kumuls 14 Ireland 6
Round 3 PNG Kumuls 64 USA 0
Quarter Finals : PNG Kumuls 6 England 36