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WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams

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worldfootynews.com has been publishing unofficial Men's World Rankings since 2006 and has been using a consistent methodology since 2010.  In establishing that methodology we consulted with our readership and that influenced the final decision.

Although some informal updates were published during IC17 our last formal edition was in late 2016 and we're due to issue a post-IC17 update, but find ourselves confronted by some difficult decision regarding which teams qualify.

It has been suggested that a match involving Canada B could be included, as well as games by the hybrid sides Indochina and Asia Lions.  There's also a match between the USA and Canada way back in 1993 that has been suggested as needing to go into our statistics. In the spirit of the 2010 debate, we're seeking feedback from our readers as to their thoughts.

We do acknowledge that many people have had difficulty signing up to our website due to ongoing technical issues, so if you have something to add, please try to sign in / sign up for an account, or use Facebook to log in (see the Facebook login on the left), or post thoughts on Facebook itself, or send an email to "world" at the domain name of this website and we'll help you create an account.

Canada B would seem an obvious exclusion but in starting to develop the Women's rankings in recent years the US and Canadian B teams were included due to the severe lack of nations competing and eligible games to add to the statistics.  Personally I don't think this justifies adding Canada B in the Men's rankings, which have far greater statistics to support them.

Indochina debuted in October 2016 at the All Asian Championships.  It drew players from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and at the time also looked headed for IC17.  It was with this expected continuity that they were added to our World Rankings.  We'd love feedback as to whether they are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future.

Information on the continuity of the AFL Asia Lions is less firm.  We believe they were pulled together from various countries to provide China with opposition in the match that featured with the Port Adelaide vs Gold Coast AFL match in China this year.  Countries represented were Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. For this hybrid to be included in our rankings there would need to be an intention to repeat the concept regularly and use the same core nations, otherwise the ranking they establish will have no bearing on their ability from one match to the next and effectively just be throwing random statistical noise into the rankings system.

The 1993 USA vs Canada match was recently put forward by Bill Frampton, founding president of the Canadian Australian Football Association (CAFA), the forerunner to AFL Canada.  Bill argues that:

"With the International Cup coming up I was reading your pages about the rankings and matches used to compile them when I noticed that you're missing the earliest match which would meet your criteria. That match was played when Canada hosted Great Britain at Centennial Park Oval in Toronto on the 3rd of October 1993.

I remember it well as I made the long trek from Moncton to Toronto to attend it and in the event acted as timekeeper. The sides played 18-a-side with at least half nationals. Canada won 10.6 66 to 6.7 43 on a cool overcast autumn day with occasional light drizzle."

We needed to draw a line somewhere and set 1994 as our start point, which in no way diminishes this game but makes it fairly clear it should be excluded.  We'd also have concerns that it would fail other criteria.  These days we require teams to be mostly nationals but back then such games were rare so there was some leniency.  From our criteria page page:

"For matches played prior to IC2002, games must have been at least 12-a-side and more than 8 players being nationals."

Seven years after we wrote those rules they are seen to not quite be as thorough as intended.  8 out of 12 meant two thirds being nationals but if it was 18-a-side I believe our intent would've been to have two thirds be nationals, so at least 12 of 18.  And again, the cutoff was 1994, which was not suggesting that prior games did not occur. Admittedly their exclusion from our tables may result in future presentations of tables of wins/losses that omit such games.  But we're certainly not keen to retrospectively change all our tables over the last 7 years.  We'd also then have to make sure of any other 1993 games.

This query has also caused a revisit of the criteria, which were steadily tightened for later periods.  The current rule applicable is:

"For matches played since IC2008, games must have been at least 16-a-side and at least 12 players on each team being nationals (ideally all players)."

I believe this should now be superceded by a rule stating:

"For matches played since IC2017, games must have been at least 16-a-side and all players on each team being nationals."


Thoughts please on Canada B, Indochina, AFL Asia Lions and the 1993 and post-IC17 criteria.

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WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams | 18 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: conyers on Friday, September 01 2017 @ 08:52 am ACST

Happy to put my 2 cents in:

* Don't include "B" team results as it muddies the waters to much.
* If a "A" team plays against a "B" team then the result for the "A" team should technically not be included either - but as the pool of results is so small you could include them but dont give as many ranking points.

* Combine team such as Indo China and European Crusaders can be included (bit like West Indies in Cricket). However if these countries start to play individually then they should be taken away.

* Time to stop including every result going back over 20 years, maybe have it as a 9 year rolling rankings set up so that you get 3 IC results worth + plus other tournaments and internationals. As if you go back to far its not accurate - most other spots do it over 4 or 8 years.

* If you still want to recognize past results, you could have a historical ladder which is purely on win loss and could show the results of ever team etc

* As there is now a Division 2 in the IC, these results should not be worth as much as those in Division 1. Results in teams like Croatia, Germany, China and Japan flying up the rankings without playing anyone tough. While those with a tough draw such as France, Fiji and Canada go backwards based on the tough draw.

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, September 03 2017 @ 11:51 pm ACST

In response to Conyers suggestion of wiping older results, it really doesn't matter too much. The system is designed so that older results fade away anyway, but in a subtle way.

Imagine 2 teams play and 1 defeats the other and their rank pushes higher, the other's lower. That means that the higher team then has more to lose when they play lower teams in future (the system penalises them more if they lose) and less to gain. So if in later games they perform about the same they don't shift much, but if it turns out they are better they can still rise by playing better teams, or fall more quickly if losing to lower teams.

Hard to explain. Their results set them on a path in the rankings but if they don't deserve that position then future results will correct them more quickly - if your rank is higher than it should be then you will crash faster as you give up more points when you lose to nearby or lower teams. So once that body of future results have been played they will correct the past quickly if it was wrong or indeed non-existent, i.e. if those games were not played or were removed so everyone starts on the same generic 40 points ten years ago. Not sure if that is making sense to people.

Anyway to prove to myself it's true I deleted 13 years of results leaving just the last approximately 10 and the ladder change was remarkably small. In the top 20 positions the following teams swap positions:

NZ/Ireland, Fiji/Croatia, Japan/Germany, Peace Team/Iceland

So the only change is some immediate neighbours swap. No team moves by more than 1 position. A lot of those teams are currently separated by much less than 1 ranking point so any single result now can have the same or larger effect than that mass deletion. Remarkably stable really given how few games most nations play - I think due to the maths behind this system and because the nations do perform pretty similarly over time compared with each other.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Monday, September 04 2017 @ 12:10 am ACST

You've done very well, I was sitting here trying to work out how to explain same to Conyer but you got in ahead of me. B show-off. :-)

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Friday, September 01 2017 @ 11:25 pm ACST

Asia Lions Hybrid

I do not have any qualms about not including the Asia Lions as it was pointed out after the event (China v Lions match) that the Lions team was made up of, I believe 6 Japanese and 6 Indonesians most of whom had already played for their respective countries in previous IC’s plus other Asians. I don’t believe we can call that a legitimate “national” side. On the other hand Team Indo China I think should be allowed to be included because all the players were drawn from countries that have not previously and/or have been unable to field a “national” side, similar to European Crusaders in the Women’s competition.

Not Counting the Asia Lions v China match reduces China’s Rating points by 2.04 Rating points and they end the Cup in 13th place behind Tonga with 39.91 Rating points instead of 12th.

Kick out Asia Lions and vet carefully any new Hybrids!!!

Team Indo China and European Crusaders

The Rugby ranking scheme that we copied/adapted/bastardised makes allowances for countries to merge (eg. West Germany and East Germany) and to split (eg. Czech Republic and Slovakia) so when one or two of the “member” Indo China countries are able to “split” from the group someday down the track and field a team as a fully-fledged nation in their own right the ranking Scheme can handle it, and eventually (which we all hope will happen) Indo China will cease to exist and will eventually become dormant and then then disappear from the ranks (like Samoa and Spain).

Likewise, I believe, and all of us hope, the component players/countries in the Crusaders will also be able to leave the “alliance” eventually and play as fully-fledged nations etc. etc.

Keep Indo China and Ladies Crusaders in the Ranks for now!!!!

Canada B (Northern Stars) Men

I don’t think it is a good idea to start including B teams in the Men’s ranks at this stage of the Ranks nor the development of international footy.  Not include any Men’s B’s!!!

Taking out the Canada B men v Great Britain match has no effect on the ranks for Great Britain.

Women’s B teams (Midnight Suns & Liberty)

Both these teams played in Women’s IC14 playing all the other national sides (except their own A team) and each played as a separate entity (No crossover of players from the A’s was allowed). I think the other national teams that played against them would be a little annoyed if these matches (in the IC) were now to be classed as 2nd rate or not legitimate International matches.

Since IC14, Liberty and the Suns have played against each once 31/7/15 (but again as separate entities from the A’S (cos’ the A’s played against each other the next day) so I can accept that match.

Also, back in May this year the Midnight Suns played against both Ireland (lost) and Great Britain (won) in the what all three countries accepted as an “International Test” match series. I don’t think we can toss those matches out of the ranking either.  But I guess this raises the question of when future Ladies B’s matches occur that a decision as to whether each match is “legitimate” should be made prior to the game.

One other consideration that should be looked at as to whether continuing to “accept” B teams is that I think it would be preferable that B teams would be more suitable opponents for emerging countries to tackle especially early in these countries debut’s to International footy.

Keep the Ladies B’s in the picture for now!!   But vet future matches. 

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Mister Football on Saturday, September 02 2017 @ 03:08 pm ACST

I support everything Cam has written, very well argued and a common sense approach.

As an aside, it's worth reminding ourselves that Great Britain is a union of what might be considered independent countries, but the general principle applies that they stay one team until they start to play as individual countries more commonly (which might already be happening).

Mister Football

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Monday, September 04 2017 @ 12:03 am ACST

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all play as individual countries in Rugby and Soccer and are ranked individually in the those codes. Great Britain does get together as the British Lions in Rugby, but the Lions are not on Rugby World Ranks.

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: flyinghigh on Sunday, September 03 2017 @ 12:03 am ACST


long time no post. have you guys done the rankings post IC17 or have I missed it

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, September 03 2017 @ 03:31 pm ACST

That's kind of the point, we need to finalise the above issues before we can do that.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Sunday, September 03 2017 @ 11:47 pm ACST

World Rankings- Inclusion of Hybrids and “B” teams.


AIM- Australian Indigenous & Multicultural.

The AIM team played against all the other “national” teams at IC11 as, I believe, a quasi-national Australian team. Probably included by AFL to give the other countries some “decent” competition, or as an attempt to gauge the standard of competitors in that first Women’s IC. The cynic in me suspects the AFL got quite a surprise when AIM finished last.

I also think that the other four countries would be quite annoyed if this “legitimate” though maybe quasi-national team is now down-graded at this stage by us because some are questioning the legitimacy of hybrids.

Question or delve too deeply and the legitimacy of the Peace Team could raise its ugly head.

I believe there is a place for some hybrids at this stage of development in International Footy and consequently in the Ranking scheme.

Women’s Crusaders, Men’s Indo China and Peace Team are all acceptable in their current form, I think we could also accept a similar hybrid from South America if one was to eventuate (Columbia and Chile clubs played a match last year). Hopefully we could see one emerge from East Africa some time down the track (I believe some footy has been played in Kenya and Tanzania recently).

As for AIM, it is already dormant and if another manifestation of the team doesn’t play a match before 27/8/18 it will drop out of the Ranks completely.   

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Monday, September 04 2017 @ 10:38 am ACST

Given the dropping out of ranks via dormancy - it highlights the distinction between the concerns of the ICC (Cricket) around how to country player averages etc compared to this scenario of a current ranking scale. Consider that the ICC recognise the Oct 2005 Aust v Rest of the World as an official test match. The players in the RotW team were a 'one off' in that side while Australia was on going. ICCWorldXI is listed as a 'major team' of for example Lara and Kallis.
So - it's reasonable to count matches AGAINST hybrid teams and therefore the hybrid team warrants being counted. So - that effectively relates to AIM, Peace Team, Euro Crusaders.
The 'B' team notion is different - in that the '94/95 ODI series with Aust and Aust 'A' involved - these stats do not reflect in ODIs. List 'A' matches I believe. However - re IC14 Womens Div - given these sides were accepted into the draw then the matches need to count given the IC is the premier international team tournament available. The qualitative component needn't come into it - else why should India take credit for beating a sub strength West Indies XI in 1979 when the best players were off with Packer.

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Rog on Friday, September 08 2017 @ 08:48 am ACST

I say no to all "B" teams including womens.
The womens B teams are only being included now to bring up the number of matches, but in the future when more full international matches have been played, the games against B teams only dilute the quality of the rankings. You can always assume that the A version of a nation is the best available team at that time, but the B version can not be assumed to be the 2nd best version of that nations team (the quality of a B team depends on the criteria being used to select it at any given time). Therefore B teams are not a continuation of themselves over time.

I agree hybrid nations are fine until the constituent nations of the hybrids have their own national teams. So no to the Asian Lions.

Adding in older results are fine, as the effect will wear off over time anyway. While I disagree with many aspects of the ranking system used here, I maintain my own personal ranking system (in which the effect of any given match will have totally disappeared after about 30 more games involving those nations).

Any thoughts to creating a separate ranking for 9-a-side international footy?

Edited on Friday, September 08 2017 @ 08:58 am ACST by Rog

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, September 10 2017 @ 07:17 pm ACST

Hi Rog, Yes I believe Cam kept a 9-a-side version of the rankings a while back, he might have more to say on that.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, September 10 2017 @ 11:35 pm ACST

OK based on the feedback including some internal email discussions I think for the men we'll:

- exclude B teams (mostly unnecessary and potentially lack continuity from one match to the next)
- exclude hybrids if they are likely to lack continuity or involve nations that regularly play independently (Asian Lions out but Indochina stays in for now)
- the 1993 Canada vs USA game stays out as there are questions over criteria but more so it will have no bearing on the ranks now but would be time consuming to retrospectively add and creates more questions about what other games occurred at that time (we set 1994 as the start for our data, and even matches around then have virtually no effect on current rankings)

- tighten the criteria so all players must be nationals in future (no expats Aussies etc)

For the women:

- include European Crusaders since mostly from countries not represented otherwise, but be ready to drop it pretty quickly (but not retrospectively) since many of its constituents may play standalone soon. In fact I'm not convinced here, as there were 3 British, 3 Irish and 1 Canadian named at IC17, so a big chunk are already from existing playing nations, and a biggest of all was the French with 10 players, so I suspect there could soon be a French standalone side soon too. Leaving them out of the rankings would in no way say they shouldn't play, it's a very separate question. I just think at the content of the team will be changing all the time so no consistency in their ability so it's not fair that teams get or lose points against a team that could be so variable. Some have said vet the hybrids closely. Some have said leave them out once their constituent nations start playing. What if France play at the next European Championships, do we drop the Crusaders then?

- leave the Canada and USA B team results in but don't include any more from them or others in future.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Troy Thompson on Monday, September 11 2017 @ 10:07 am ACST

I am for some compromise on the B team and combined teams issue. That is, their matches count in the rankings as long as they meet the non-Aussie requirements, and they are given rankings points, but they forever remain 'provisional' 'theoretical' or 'reference' teams. The actual rankings will only be stand alone nations and only for their no.1 team.

I also agree that there should be old results that have no bearing on where a nation is today, that drop off as time goes on.

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Tuesday, September 12 2017 @ 02:29 pm ACST


I believe the Crusaders who played in 2016 European Championships was made up of a wider spread of nationalities than the IC17 team, it had some Swedes, Danes and others other than French girls. (I thought I saw a Polish girl named.) (I could be wrong tho)

If we do see a French standalone side emerge in a couple of years the Crusaders should not be dropped because it will be still made up of players from countries across Europe who can't put a full side together.

The "current" Crusaders has achieved what it set out to do, that is, get more players playing at the "elite" international level than otherwise was possible.

I don't think that the hybrids eg. Crusaders, Indochina and Peace Team should be down graded to a perpetual provisional status because that will be also downgrading the matches to something below International status and I don't think the nations that played against them deserve that. The matches played so far have all been played under "international" standard/status/conditions.

AS I have said before, the Rugby scheme we have adapted can handle countries dividing and our scheme can handle this situation too. I think that the Rugby scheme makes some adjustments to the Rating points held be the dividing nation/s eg. rating points (halved/reduced) for two country split or some thing similar (new nations not as strong as old combined nation theory).  

We have at this stage accepted them as "International teams/nations" that we expect to at some stage to split (as Czech Republic/Slovakia) or Yugoslavia into(Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia etc.etc). Yugoslavia is no longer on any world rankings in other sports.

I believe there is a place for hybrids in International Australian Rules Football and Crusaders, Indochina and Peace Team are all acceptable in their current form.

Any future hybrids likewise need to be similar in make up if they do eventuate, and I don't believe there is anyone in the international footy community who wouldn't be happy to see a couple of new hybrids emerge, say from South America and East Africa a few years done the track, as a step or leap in the development of International footy.

France could well be the first nation to split from the Crusaders.

Any takers on who will be first to split from IndoChinaω I'm tipping Laos, they seem to have a larger pecentage of locals than most of the other SE Asian clubs/nations. 

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Tuesday, September 12 2017 @ 06:12 pm ACST

Cam, you say France may be the first to split from the Crusaders but they already include Irish and British players who already have their own standalone sides. It's messy.


And re-stating my argument as to why... the whole idea of rankings is that teams have a certain level and so when other teams play them they are rewarded with points or penalised by losing points when they defeat or lose to them. Thus the competing teams have their points adjusted and move up or down, with a throttle on that if they are already considered far above.

The entire concept fundamentally depends on teams playing to roughly their ranking, and if the results suggest otherwise then they move and in concert the teams they play adjust. So if a team does improve they will go up but it takes a bit of time for the teams they defeated to recover from the unexpected (by the system) loss.

If a team performs completely inconsistently with their ranking then it is unfair on the other teams (whereas Cam you said it was unfair to remove them). If the Crusaders are ranked 10th and then field a team without any French players and get smashed by 11th who get a nice boost to launch up to 9th, how is that fair to the original 9th who may have played the Crusaders 3 months earlier with all their French players?

What if the Irish decide they can't attend the next major event so suddenly the Crusaders pick up 8 of the world's best (excluding Australia) players? Suddenly the ranking bears no resemblence to the team's ability.

Yes over time teams change anyway, but any mathematical approach assumes some consistency over time and moving trends, it can't fairly track random performance.

So I say the Crusaders are great and should continue to play but we need to be very careful about keeping them in our ranks else they could easily distort the system. As someone said above, we need to vet hybrids closely.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Cam Homes on Wednesday, September 13 2017 @ 12:33 am ACST

The two manifestations of Crusaders differed in the sense that the IC Crusaders had some European girls in Aussie play(not Aussies I believe)and also picked up some poms who didn't make the GB side, whereas the EC team drew all the players from across mainland Europe. (Cost of travel had some/if not a huge bearing on both teams composition). I also believe that the Crusaders concept/ethos would not under any circumstances load up with Irish players who have already played for Ireland internationally, (as per Asia Lions) and wouldn't be accepted by the other nations as counting in the ranks anyway.

Cost of travel and availability of players will have large effect on all the nations that are playing International footy so sudden drops or rise in standard of play are probably more the norm than the unusual in international footy at the moment and the ranking scheme can handle this (+/-3.00 max). As long as the hybrids remain as they are now (not like the Asian Lions) and as I did say before future hybrid teams need to be vetted carefully.
And when the French do actually raise their own national side (and are no longer part of the Crusaders) the Crusaders standard will almost certainly fall so their rating could/should be adjusted accordingly. It is how it is done in the Rugby scheme.
And remember Brett, that probably all of the bottom two thirds of the Rugby nations all suffer from the same problem of cost of travel, availability of players, amateurism etc. and sudden drop off of standard from one test match to the next (Amateurs v Semi Professional v Professional) is probably quite common.
Also our small number of footy nations has teams of too wide a standard (rating gap > than =/- 10.00 points) playing each other too much. Doesn't happen in Rugby. Hopefully as more nations jump on board fewer mismatches will occur.

IF we think of the hybrids as a bit like Yugoslavia (at some stage down the track dividing up) they can't suddenly start playing Irish players because they happen to be European( they can only have Serbs, Croats etc. etc.)and when the Croats do leave they no longer are able to play for Yugoslavia.
I think the hybrids are a valuable step in the development of international footy and we should have them in the ranks so that when other national teams play them the games are given international status (hopefully the elite -est players each team can muster from their respective player pool). Its our ranking scheme (we don't have to slavishly follow other codes) and eventually (when Aussie Rules takes over the world :-) ) the hybrids will all cease to exist anyway.

WFN World Rankings - decision time on hybrids and B teams
Authored by: Brett Northey on Wednesday, September 13 2017 @ 12:04 pm ACST

Cam, you keep citing the Rugby scheme at the lower end but do we know if that provides reliable ranks for those teams? You keep saying the rankings can handle things but it has to handle them well.

You mentioned that the Crusaders can't start including Irish, but they did at IC17, and British. I know they were players who missed out, but it shows an inconsistency that is liable to make our rankings less of an accurate reflection for other teams too, which is what rankings are all about.

Anyway I think we agree for now, Crusaders stay in, but under careful watch.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN