Scotland Rugby League have leapt from ninth to fourth in the world rankings after their impressive Four Nations campaign. After a heavy opening defeat to Australia, Scotland led England until shortly before half-time before going down to defeat and then secured a sensational draw against New Zealand, then world number one nation.
The RLIF rankings are heavily weighted in favour of the top competitions, the strength of the opposition, and the closeness of the result. Therefore, Scotland scored points for playing Australia, competing with England and from matching the top-ranked Kiwis. With all three games being in the Four Nations – the world’s second-most prestigious competition after the World Cup – Scotland garnered enough points to move up the rankings to fourth behind new world leaders Australia, New Zealand and third-placed England. The Bravehearts overtook Wales, Ireland, France, Fiji and Samoa, who were previously fourth after their excellent showing in the 2014 Four Nations.
“It’s been a long, hard road to get to where we are with the national team,” said head coach Steve McCormack. “We’ve not just arrived at this stage. We built the team over five years or so, and have gathered momentum since the day we got together for the 2013 World Cup. Winning the Europeans in 2014 was fantastic and gave us this opportunity in the Four Nations. This ranking is reward to all the players, staff, sponsors and supporters who have helped get us there.”
Scotland will face New Zealand again in the World Cup next November, in Christchurch, sandwiched between tough fixtures against Tonga and Samoa in Cairns. One win could be enough to take them into the quarter-finals as three teams qualify from Group B.
“Being ranked fourth shows how far we have come but we are not getting ahead of ourselves,” says McCormack. “We’ve had really tight and competitive games with Ireland, France and Wales in the last couple of years. But we managed to get past Tonga at the last World Cup and have just drawn with New Zealand so, while we know how difficult it will be next year, our opponents won’t be taking us lightly. We’ve gained respect on the international stage and I can’t wait to see if this outstanding group of players can follow it up and do it again next year.”
For more information or interviews contact ScotlandRL Media Officer Gavin Willacy on 07796 442041 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo courtesy of SWpix.com