Is Gary Schofield right? Are England the new kings of international rugby league?

England Rugby League is on the rise but is there any basis to Gary Schofield’s claim they are the World’s Number One team?

In an odd attempt to bait Australia into playing Great Britain in a Test Series, former Great Britain Captain Gary Schofield has somewhat incredulously claimed England to be rightfully the World Number One Rugby League team. “The Aussies lost to New Zealand last month, which means the winner of the Kiwi – Great Britain Test series (Britain) is the world’s next number one Test nation,” was the fuzzy logic Schofield used to make his ridiculous claim. “Even if you believe the Aussies are still the best and the defeat to the Kiwis was a blip, then they don’t deserve to be ranked number one if they can’t be bothered to play many games.”

While we acknowledge the English have been very impressive during their four Test wins in 2018, we can’t follow Schofield down the rabbit hole that sees this surpass Australia’s almost uninterrupted five decade reign at the top of the Rugby League world. Given the 1990 Golden Boot Winner needs a little reminding, here are a few reasons he should probably reconsider his outlandish claims.


Australia won the 2017 World Cup

Yep just 12 months ago, after beating England twice in the tournament, Australia were crowned World Champions at Suncorp Stadium. The English were rightly lauded for a strong tournament that culminated in a gripping final against the Australians but pushing the best is a long way short of being the best.


Australia won the 2013 World Cup

Not just the most recent World Cup, the Kangaroos claimed the one previous too with a dominant Final performance against New Zealand at Old Trafford. The 2013 tournament was a journey of redemption from the Australians after being upset in the 2008 Final in Brisbane after claiming the title the previous six times it was contested.


Australia won the 2016 Four Nations

Barely challenged at all during the 2016 Four Nations in England, Australia put an exclamation mark on the tournament with a 34-8 victory in the Final at Anfield. For those keeping track at home this means the Kangaroos are two time defending World Champions, and winners eight out of the last nine times it has been contested, they also hold the other major trophy too.


Australia have won 14 of their last 15 Tests

While a thrilling finish in Auckland saw the Aussies lose to New Zealand, victory over World Cup Semi-Finalists Tonga a week later improved their record to 14 wins from their last 15 Tests. In fact the loss to the Kiwis was just the fifth loss the Kangaroos had suffered in 50 Tests this decade.


Australia have won the last 12 Tests against England

Given the Kangaroos dominance of World Tournaments in recent times, you would think that England would at least have a strong record against Australia in this time to justify Schofield’s claim, but you’d be wrong. England haven’t as much as defeated Australia once in their 12 meetings this century. Even allowing for contests between Australia and Great Britain, the record isn’t improved much with Australia winning 23 of 26 in the combined Head to Head.

While we support wholeheartedly Schofield’s push for more international Rugby League and for an Australia v Great Britain Test Series in 2019, we feel there are better ways of making his point. At the end of the day there is no genuine measurement that supports an argument for Australia no longer being World Number One and even less that England have a claim to the crown.

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