The national side was previously on 31st spot.
The huge decline in ranking is mainly due to the Cook Islands’ inability to play regular international matches.
The national side also failed to qualify for the Rugby League World Cup 2017 after losing to Tonga in the qualifiers, which affected their rankings.
The official Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) world rankings are calculated on each nation’s performance over the current season and the four preceding seasons.
Points are awarded to each team for each match based on the result, the margin of victory (or defeat), the relative strength of opposition faced, the date of the match and the importance of the match (eg a World Cup match is given greater weighting than a standalone international).
The points are then used to create the official World Rankings by ordering the teams by virtue of the points gained over the five season period.
Only officially sanctioned matches played at senior level between two approved members are considered as part of the rankings.
The national women’s team (Moana), however, maintained their fifth ranking after a successful 2017 season.
The highlight of the team last season was beating England 22-16 in the 2017 Women's Rugby League World Cup.
The latest world rankings was issued following various autumn internationals that featured Word Cup Qualifiers, the European and Americas Championships, Pacific Tests and England’s three-match home series against New Zealand.
With England having won those encounters 2-1, and beaten the same opponents in Denver mid-season, Wayne Bennett’s men have gone above the Kiwis into second place, and significantly closed the gap on top-placed Australia.
It is likely that when the Kangaroos travel to England in 2020, the top position will be up for grabs.
“This is a good way to round off what has been a successful year for all our teams in the England Performance Unit. We saw a good number of new faces come through into the senior England squad, some of them from the Knights programme who themselves had a successful trip to Papua New Guinea,” said England director of rugby Kevin Sinfield.
“It’s pleasing to see the investment we’ve made, in combination with Sport England, paying dividends and due credit for what has been an excellent team effort on and off the field.”
France has moved back to sixth after their triumph in the European Championship and passage to the 2021 World Cup, Wales and Jamaica also going up in the rankings after similarly making the tournament in England in three years’ time.
The success of the Emerging Nations’ World Championship in October has seen two new entries with Poland and Turkey ranked for the first time, giving a significant boost to the Eastern Europe/Mediterranean region.
“To get a ranking is a huge first milestone for us as a rugby league nation, and a great shot in the arm for all of us involved,” said Poland head coach, Lee Addison. “We dedicate it to Łukasz Łucka who is the tireless, driving force behind the game here.
“It’s important that we now build on this momentum, and incumbent on all of us to make sure we do everything in our power to continue to grow the domestic game in Poland, but we are on the map and that should help drive us forward.”
Rankings (Top 10)
Men’s – 1 (1) Australia, 2 (3) England, 3 (2) New Zealand, 4 (4) Tonga, 5 (5) Fiji, 6 (8) France, 7 (6) Samoa, 8 (7) Scotland, 9 (9) Lebanon, 10 (10) Papua New Guinea
Women’s – 1 Australia, 2 New Zealand, 3 England, 4 Canada, 5 Cook Islands, 6 Papua New Guinea, 7 France, 8 Italy, 9 Lebanon.