Aussies stay top of the pile
England remain third despite woeful World Cup showing
Last Updated: March 28, 2009 1:22pm
Israel Folau scores against New Zealand at the World Cup
Australia have retained their status as the top-ranked team in world rugby league despite their defeat to New Zealand in the 2008 World Cup final.
The rankings, released on Saturday by the Rugby League International Federation, are based on a two-year cycle of results and the Kangaroos stay at the top of the pile having defeated the Kiwis in three of their last four meetings.
New Zealand are still just behind their great rivals, while England remain in third despite their hugely disappointing showing at the World Cup.
Fiji have edged out France and Papua New Guinea to go fourth on the strength of reaching the last four in Australia and Ireland have climbed to seventh following their passage to the semi-final qualifier.
Wales, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, will go into the end-of-season European Nations Cup in 12th position, one place behind Lebanon who will also be involved in that tournament.
European Federation chairman Richard Lewis stated: "Last year's World Cup was a huge success for the growth of international rugby league and it is fantastic to see such a diverse number of nations now making up the rankings.
"Great progress is being made at all levels internationally and that good work is set to continue in 2009 with a number of exciting international tournaments planned."
Leading RLIF world rankings: 1. Australia, 2. New Zealand, 3. England, 4. Fiji, 5. France, 6. PNG, 7. Ireland, 8. Tonga, 9. Scotland, 10. Samoa, 11. Lebanon, 12. Wales, 13. Russia, 14. Cook Islands, 15. USA, 16. Serbia, 17. Japan, 18. Italy, 19. Germany, 20. Czech Republic