England’s world ranking has been negatively affected by Great Britain’s disastrous tour Down Under in 2019.
Despite a relatively good run in official test matches, England have slipped to third in the world rankings behind Tonga.
They have won five of their six matches since the last World Cup, losing only once to New Zealand in the 2018 Baskerville Shield.
And while GB’s two defeats to New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea provided boosts to the opponents, they also negatively impacted England’s rankings points.
That’s because, for every player involved in a Great Britain match, their ranking points are returned to their home nation.
How Great Britain tour losses count for England
So if all 17 players have declared for England, it basically means a Great Britain match counts as an England international in rankings points.
The Great Britain coach for the 2019 series was of course Wayne Bennett, who was also England coach at the time.
That meant he saw the Great Britain tour as an opportunity to get his England players together and prepare for the eventually cancelled Ashes series and 2021 World Cup.
He received criticism at the time, particularly around the exclusion of Wales international Regan Grace, seen as one of the few genuine non-English contenders for a starting 17 berth.
Instead, he pulled in Australia-born Blake Austin, who was eligible for England, to play on the wing.
Indeed the only player that featured for GB in the four-game tour that wasn’t declared for England was Scotland’s Lachlan Coote.
He only played in the opening defeat to Tonga, which means that three defeats and 16/17ths of the Tonga defeat are counted on England’s world ranking.
While of course minimal in comparison, it also means that 1/17th of that defeat count negatively towards Scotland’s world ranking.
Despite Austin and fellow Australian-born GB international Jackson Hastings never having played for England, their contributions do count towards England’s ranking.
That’s because IRL guidelines state “the home nation is the one who they choose to be eligible for not where they are born”.
It’s unclear what the future holds for Great Britain.
As for England, their matches against Combined Nations All Stars in the past two years do not count towards their world ranking.