More Top Stories


Nines in Paradise thrills

9 January 2024


The year in sports 2023

31 December 2023


2023 year in review

31 December 2023

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Cook Islands amongst best improvers in International Rugby League rankings

Friday 23 December 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports


Cook Islands amongst best improvers in International Rugby League rankings
Cook Islands Moana perform the pre match haka against Australia yesterday. 22110202

Cook Islands teams are among the best improvers in the latest International Rugby League World Rankings but the head of the national body says he still doesn’t agree with the ranking system.

The Kukis (national men’s team) are now ranked 12th in the world – a jump from 20th place in lead up to the Rugby League World Cup. The Moana were the most significant improvers in the women’s rankings, climbing from 11th to sixth place.

The Kukis finished third in their pool at the World Cup after beating Wales and going down to Tonga and Papua New Guinea. The Moana also finished third in their pool after going down to powerhouses Australia and New Zealand before beating France.

However Charles Carlson, the president of Cook Islands Rugby League, said he still didn’t agree with this ranking system.

“The ranking should be based on the result of the World Cup and then review it after the qualifying round every two years. How can Wales rank high than the Cook Islands when it didn’t win any game at the World Cup plus the Cooks beat Wales. Also why is Serbia in the top 16 ahead of the other World Cup teams when they didn't make the World Cup,” Carlson said.

“I expected Cook Islands to rank 9th or 10th after missing out on the top eight but coming away with a win.”

Carlson said the goal was to better the ranking but under the current system meant more international games.

“It is based on the number of international games played in the past four years. So the more games one team play the higher the ranking. It doesn’t reflect a true ranking because you could get tier three teams ranked higher than tier two teams because they played more games.

“But it’s good to see the Cook Islands up there with the best in the world.”

The Official International Rugby League (IRL) World Rankings are calculated on each nation’s performance over the current season and the three preceding seasons.

Points are awarded to each team for each match based on:

  • The result of the match i.e. win, lose or draw
  • The margin of victory (or defeat) - the larger the winning margin the greater the value to the rankings
  • The relative strength of opposition faced - if you play a higher ranked team that is of greater value than playing a lower ranked team
  • The date of the match – more recent matches are weighted more heavily - a result in the most recent 2 years is worth double a result 3 years ago and 4 times a result that is 4 years old
  • The importance of the match - World Cup matches are ranked top followed in order by World Cup Qualifiers, Regional Championships and one-off international matches

The points are then used to create the Official World Rankings by ordering the teams by virtue of the points gained over the four-year period.

Only officially sanctioned matches played at senior level between two approved members are considered as part of the rankings.

Meanwhile the Cook Islands men’s side will take on the winner of the 2023 Middle East Africa Cup for a spot in the 2025 Rugby League World Cup to be held in France.

Cook Islands Moana have automatically qualified for the Women’s 2025 Rugby League World Cup.