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Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?

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This will most likely be our final article on unofficial World Rankings for 2008 until our final list is released, based on the user comments so far and a final vote by worldfootynews.com staff.

In this article we consider where to rank the countries that did not attend IC08 but which have been deemed eligible for ranking based on good numbers of players that would qualify under International Cup rules. These countries are: Tonga, Spain (Catalonia), France, Germany and Croatia (see Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - other countries to consider for further discussion).

In terms of the IC08 countries, after discussion in Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - IC08 placings and amongst worldfootynews.com staff, we have decided to leave the IC08 finishing order unmodified, despite a general belief that Denmark probably deserved to finish a little higher, and Japan a little lower. Given that such a major tournament was played it was felt best to stick to those rankings, and that the argument for change was persuasive but not overwhelming. Note however that is a guide, the final rankings will be based on voting of staff.

So here are the IC08 rankings, with Australia slotted in at number 1 (so all others shift down one spot).

1. Australia
2. Papua New Guinea
3. New Zealand
4. South Africa
5. Ireland
6. Nauru
7. Canada
8. USA
9. Japan
10. Great Britain
11. Samoa
12. Denmark
13. Sweden
14. Peace Team
15. Finland
16. China
17. India

You can view all the IC08 results here.

Another pair of countries not widely discussed are Argentina and Chile, with the South American nations playing their first international in 2008. However to the best of our knowledge it's unlikely that they fielded enough locals to qualify for our rankings under International Cup rules.

The other controversial decision to be made was the Catalonia/Spain question. Ultimately we just can't see it appropriate to rank them as Catalonia when it is not the accepted international norm. But likewise to ignore their efforts would be wrong, so the compromise was to rank them as the country that they would be required to internationally, which is Spain.

So where in that list should we put Tonga, Spain (Catalonia), France, Germany and Croatia? Do we simply put them at the end because they did not attend IC08? I don't think that would be fair - not attending the tournament should not be penalised in any way, and certainly not rankings.

So what matches did these nations play in 2008? Tonga played two games at the Multicultural Challenge, played next to IC08. One was a Tonga-Australia team and the other much more closely a Tongan side under the conditions required here. That side lost narrowly to Team Africa, made up mostly of young players from African immigrant families. The Africans also played a warm-up match against South Africa prior to the Cup, losing 21 to 103, giving us a very rough guide to their form. Given that information (and noting South Africa held China scoreless) and that Tonga has had some form of senior league in 2008 and juniors prior to that, it seems reasonable to rank them above the new boys from China and India.

France, Catalonia, Germany and Croatia all fielded sides in the 9-a-side EU Cup. The results can be seen here (click on the number at the end of each row to get more match details, including the handicap). When examining results one has to remember it is a handicap event, so scores were inflated for teams with few Australians. It's also difficult to know whether the teams were close to full strength or not.

France also sent a squad to a "World 9s" hosted by the Catalonians but their opposition there is also a relatively unknown quantity so doesn't help our quest for rankings. At the EU Cup both France, Germany and Croatia were reported as fielding all-local sides, and Catalonia's Pere Moliner was very clear that his team believed internationals should be played only by citizens of that country. But does all-local mean the same as International Cup eligibility? It would be interesting to get confirmation on the typical player background. Australia has many Croatian-Australians, so perhaps some of the Croatian Knights are dual citizens but not quite IC eligible? That's speculation. Speaking with Aussie Rules Europe's Philip Porublev, one of the main organisers of the tournament, he stated that the Croatians had confirmed that their players had not played in Australia. So we must consider them as fully eligible.

If we did treat those four teams based exactly as they were at the EU Cup, we have to remember that the proposed rankings are for full field games, 18 per side plus interchange. In their matches, they notionally took on countries like Sweden, Finland and England who attended the IC08 (in the latter case as part of Britain). However the EU Cup sides were known to bare little resemblance to the IC08 sides due to player injury, unavailability and internal politics. England won the tournament but the mostly-English Great Britain have easily defeated them previously, and themselves finished 9th at IC08. Sweden and Finland finished 4th and 5th at the EU Cup, but their stronger IC08 sides finished 10th and 14th.

So, armed with that information, where do Spain (Catalonia), France, Germany and Croatia fit in? France narrowly lost to Finland in their 5th/6th EU Cup playoff, but Finland, taking into account the handicap, were probably slightly below IC08 strength. So France would go a bit below Finland in the IC08 rankings. Catalonia lost to Finland by 46 points, so would be further down.

Germany defeated Sweden in the 3rd/4th playoff, but we estimate Sweden were well below IC08 strength. So Germany finished above France, but would they go above Finland? With Croatia coming second overall in the EU Cup I'd suggest they finish above Germany, but again, where relative to Finland? And they only just squeezed past Germany.

And where does that group finish relative to the next rung of IC08 teams, China and India? Neither of those new footy countries got near their opposition, except India losing by 4 goals to Finland and China losing by 1 goal to the Peace Team. It suggests that there would have been very little between Germany, France, Catalonia, China and India, and possibly the Peace Team and Finland too. When Germany defeated Finland, they started with around a 4 goal head-start due to handicap with Finland fielding some "non-locals", but Germany pulled further away to win by around 6 goals. So despite having some Aussies, which should have gone some way to allowing for Finland being under IC08 strength, Germany still drew away. And by tournament's end, China and India had greatly improved, and featured some athletic young men who simply needed a few more games under their belts.

It's all somewhat subjective and based on insufficient data, but that was a given when we started this project. So, with all that in mind, here is a suggested order:

1. Australia
2. Papua New Guinea
3. New Zealand
4. South Africa
5. Ireland
6. Nauru
7. Canada
8. USA
9. Japan
10. Great Britain
11. Samoa
12. Denmark
13. Sweden
14. Croatia
15. Germany
16. Peace Team
17. Finland
18. France
19. Tonga
20. Spain (Catalonia)
21. China
22. India

As usual, feel free to add comments and seek to influence any final decision. The final rankings will be based on voting by some of the worldfootynews.com staff, taking into account any consensus reached in these discussions.

The bottom line in motivation to produce this list is to imagine you are new to the sport, one of the recent converts or potential converts. You know you have a national side. I think pretty soon you would ask the question "where are we ranked in the world" or "how do we compare with other countries". This ranking attempts to answer that basic question, without pretending to be perfect.

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Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams? | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: Niels Schønnemann on Friday, January 23 2009 @ 11:21 pm ACDT

Without actually haven seen Croatia play and only seen snippets of Tonga play, I would still rank Tonga slightly higher. Maybe just below Sweden or Peace Team. Im biased, but I still dont see Denmark being any worse than Samoa and Japan...In hindsight , the IC draw/ranking was simply unfavorable to the Danes.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 01:30 am ACDT


Denmark also had a terrible time getting to the IC08 too apparently. I think I'd heard a tiny bit about that but in all the IC08 flurry I didn't hear any more. But I was talking to Philip Porublev during the week and he was telling me that Denmark were due to fly via Hong Kong and bad weather prevented the flight so they were stuck in London for several days and had to find alternative flights, only arriving perhaps the day before their first game. Certainly not good preparation.

Credit to them though, they obviously didn't use it as an excuse, I didn't hear it anyway. And they did seem to improve as the tournament went on.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: duffman on Monday, January 26 2009 @ 07:00 am ACDT

If you are putting Oz at no. 1 then Ireland must be at no.2. Four or five in the AFL, more playing on rookie contracts plus you would only need a few county player from Ireland on top of these and Ireland would stuff everyone except Australia.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: Niels Schønnemann on Monday, January 26 2009 @ 09:04 pm ACDT

I dont think so. This ranking is based on what national teams the countries have and realisticly would put on show. If Australia was to do this, they might only get 3rd or 4th-tier players playing (counting AFL as tier 1) for the green and gold, but they´d still be far better than anyone else.

The team that Irish coach would select, would not include the mentioned type players from other sporting codes and so they cannot be counted in.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: 00Bock on Monday, January 26 2009 @ 09:16 pm ACDT

That is quite true! Imagine Kennelly, O'hAilpin and Clarke playing in the IC like Brian Stynes did in 2002 and 2005: no chance for PNG or NZ! But I guess regarding amateur level alone, the ranking is correct at the top.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, January 27 2009 @ 12:16 pm ACDT

duffman, you raise an interesting issue, but we've already discussed it. Correct that Ireland could easily be ranked second only to Australia, but we pretty much decided that it has to be based on realistic availability and at this stage AFL-listed players and players from other codes have not shown themselves to be available. If you consider other codes then the argument could extend forever - I'm sure the US could train up some NFL and NBA players to be pretty handy in a short space of time.

We can't say strictly amateur, as players below AFL level probably on various payments have already played. We'll try to stick to International Cup type criteria and with the caveat that there be a reasonable expectation that players would be available.

The bottom line is that we discussed it in reasonable depth in Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - the Irish question

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: grow the game on Thursday, January 29 2009 @ 02:17 pm ACDT

Australia should be playing at the next IC with an amateur team. As a footy player and a fan of the game i would love to play for my country, it would create a lot of attention on international footy in oz, involving clubs from all over Australia to get involved and put there best players foward to try out for the team. You could have a tryout in every state and raise money at these tryouts to help other countries make the trip and grow the game through marketing the IC internationally. I also believe an indigenous amateur team should also play. It would give a lot of indigenous kids in remote places somthing to aim for and give them the honour of playing for their people. By involving Australian teams it will make a lot of news and create a lot of sponsorship for international footy,

I understand that the teams would be very tough to beat but it puts a challenge to the stronger nations. I would even make two divisions; div A and div B based on the team rankings.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: estany on Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 02:45 am ACDT

Catalonia is an official member of several International Sports federations.

> IOC Sports:
- Korfball (IKF), Bowling (FIQ and ETBF), Racquetball (IRF and ERF)

> Other sports
- Rugby League (RLEF), Fistball (IFA), Pitch and putt (FIPPA and EPPA), Twirling (CETB and WBTF), Futsal (AMF and UEFS), ...

(In the websites of the respective federations is possible to read about the membership of Catalonia)


And for example in Bowling, there are a Catalonia Federation and a Spanish federation, both recognized separately.

So, I think that should be ranked as Catalonia, as other International Federations do.

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, February 03 2009 @ 02:12 pm ACDT

It's definitely a very difficult issue. I must admit I had not heard of several of those sports. The one that got my interest the most was Rugby League, something Australians are familiar with, and which is the kind of level of international football that Australian football can aspire to over the next 20 years.

I see that the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) don't recognise Catalonia. The Rugby League European Federation (RLEF) support the RLIF. They list 4 categories - Full Member, Associate Member, Official Observer and Unranked. Catalonia is listed as Unranked, so I'm not really sure what that means.

Of course if there was an official body that defined what entities are recognised then we would simply defer to them. The AFL is recognised as the world governing body by the biggest leagues / football countries, covering probably 99.9% of players and I'm guessing over 90% of players outside of Australia. They recognised Spain several years ago and I believe maintain that recognition to the exclusion of any others within those boundaries.

I don't know, are there any "big" sports in Spain/Catalonia that recognise Catalonia in terms of world rankings?

Obviously the whole political issue is something to be sorted out within Spain/Catalonia itself over the coming years, and I gather various courts and parliaments continue to debate it. Let me make it clear that I have no opinion on it, it's a big issue and an issue for the people themselves. It's just presenting a small conundrum for these rankings.

Listing as "Spain (Catalonia)" was an attempt at a compromise - not a political compromise of course, but a notation one for the rankings. Perhaps listing as Spain / Catalonia is a very subtle but better compromise? Implying there is ambiguity of what entity exactly is being represented, whilst making it clear in these discussions that the players are from Catalonia.

If AFL Europe is formed and if Catalonia wishes to join at some stage then it will also become an issue for them to debate.

---
Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

Debate - World footy rankings 2008 - Where to place non-IC08 teams?
Authored by: estany on Saturday, February 07 2009 @ 04:29 am ACDT

Catalonia is not ranked yet in the Rugby League European Federation because was recognised few months ago, and has not participated in World or European Championships since then, as the other federations "unranked".

CataIonia is ranked in 7th place in the International Korfball Federation ranking for november 2008. (Korfball is an sport recognized by the International Olympic Comite)
And, as I wrote, is an official member of other 2 IOC Sports: Bowling and Racquetball. (If you look at the European Racquetball Federation website, you can read that the European Champion 2007 is Victor Montserrat, representing Catalonia)

Also, Catalonia has won twice the Pitch and Putt world Cup.

Catalonia is recognised in several sports, has an Australian Footy League and has played in 3 EU Cups, so I think that should be ranked as Catalonia. But, of course, it's your decision how do you rank them.

I wish that, if AFL Europe is formed, Catalonia could join.

Cheers.