On top of North American championship bragging rights from winning the annual cross-border series, Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) world rankings will also be on the line in Saturday’s return Colonial Cup game between the USA and Canada in Connecticut.
The United States goes into the match ranked #12, while the Canadians check in at #21 and it goes without saying that both countries will be aiming to get the upper hand.
The Colonial Cup is a two-game series that is decided by an overall aggregate points system. The USA Tomahawks have a slender four-point cushion on the back of their 28-24 win in Game 1 two weeks ago in Toronto, although the fact that the Wolverines kept the score close carries some weight in Canada’s favor.
The RLIF’s world rankings are based on five main criteria including the result of a match (win, lose or tie), the margin of victory or defeat, the relative strength of the opposition, the date of the game (the more recent the match the more weight it carries), and the importance of the game.
What all this means in terms of the rankings is that a win by Canada, even if it’s not enough to clinch the Colonial Cup, will greatly benefit the Wolverines because the USA is the higher ranked of the two teams.
The US is 1-1 for 2012 going into this game. The Tomahawks handled the Ireland Wolfhounds back in March before stumbling against Tonga in May. The match against the Irish didn’t count towards the rankings because the Wolfhounds were not Ireland’s senior level team and therefore the result had no bearing on the rankings, but conversely the loss to the Tongans hurt the USA.
The Tomahawks were ranked at #11, their highest ever ranking, prior to that defeat.
Canada, on the other hand, is 2-1 in 2012 after beating Jamaica and Lebanon earlier in the summer and then losing to the Tomahawks in the first game.
So from an American standpoint, a win by the Tomahawks, a tie, or a loss by four points or less will see them retain the Cup because they’re the holders, but the bottom line is that the bigger their win on Saturday the better off they’ll be rankings wise.