Rugby League World Cup

The Rugby League World Cup was the brain-child of French Rugby League official, Paul Barriere, who promoted the idea of a World Cup for Rugby in the early fifties. This came to fruition in 1954 when Great Britain defeated France in Paris to become Rugby’s first ever world cup winners. It is played now every four years with qualification phases arranged around the world in the lead up to the tournament. It is open to all full and affiliate members of the RLIF. Since 2013 the RLWC finals series has involved 14 teams, in 2021 it will increase to a 16 team format. From 2017, the World Cup Trophy will be named in honour of Paul Barriere.
There are also World Cups for Women, Wheelchair Rugby League, Students and Armed Forces. For details of RLWC2017 visit

Four Nations

The Four Nations Competition grew from the Tri-Nations (Australia, England and New Zealand). It is jointly organised by those three Federations and has included the Winner of the European Championship and the Pacific Cup as the fourth nation, depending upon which hemisphere is hosting the tournament.

Pacific Cup

The Pacific Cup has been organised sporadically since 1975 and has not yet established a regular cycle. It involves mainly the Island Nations such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands and has been used to decide the fourth participant in the Four Nations Tournament.

European Championship

The European Championship is the premier international competition in Europe. Formerly the European Nations Cup and European Cup, it adopted the multi-tier European Championship moniker in 2012 along with a controlled promotion and relegation system between its lower levels. The top tier European Championship is integrated into the international calendar through its dual role as a world cup and Four Nations qualifying event.
Beneath the European Championship is the biennial, four-team European Championship B, and beneath that the annual, three-team European Championship C. Both tournaments are active parts of the RLIF’s international structure as both have acted as world cup qualifying events.

Other Competitions

There are several other international competitions that are arranged around the world which provide a suitable level of competition for the participants. These include; The Colonial Cup (USA v Canada), The Nordic Cup (Norway, Sweden and Denmark), The Mediterranean Cup (Lebanon, Greece, Morocco, Malta, Italy).

World 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 of the match i.e. win, lose or draw
The margin of victory (or defeat)
The relative strength of opposition faced
The date of the match – more recent matches are weighted more heavily
The importance of the match e.g. 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

What are the criteria for an officially sanctioned match?

A match qualifies for official status if it has met the following criteria: Download the Match Sanction Guidelines
1.   It is between two national teams representing NGBs that have an official status [Member or Observer] under the RLIF or its Associate Members [confederations]
2.   The fixture has been sanctioned according to the process
3.   All players named in the 17-man squad have had their eligibility cleared
4.   It adheres to the international laws of rugby league

Apply to have a match officially sanctioned - Download the form here

Email completed forms to:

Host nation from southern hemisphere

Host nation from northern hemisphere