Just like in football 30 years before, it was the French who had the foresight to advance the international game.
Rugby League, which had started in England in 1895 and spread to Wales in 1907 and Australia and New Zealand in 1908, was introduced into France in 1934 after their rugby union side was banned from the International Rugby Board for both breaching amateur regulations and for constant foul play on the field.
In 1935 the French Rugby League proposed the constitution of an international board for Rugby League but the Australians weren’t favourable and the idea was abandoned for a while.
A new opportunity appeared after World War II with the 1947-48 New Zealand tour of Europe. The International Rugby League Board (IRLB) was then formed during a meeting on 25th January 1948 in Bordeaux, France which was attended by representatives from France, New Zealand and Great Britain. The Australian Rugby League joined the IRLB some months later.
Over the next few years the IRLB held meetings with the outcomes forming the Rugby League World Cup which made its debut in 1954.
Since 1948 with only four sanctioned international teams being overseen by the IRLB and competing in annual competition the IRLB has grown to see twelve full member nations join the federation along with around thirty member nations and countless affiliates.
In 1999 the IRLB changed its name in Rugby League International Federation (RLIF). The teams of the member nations of RLIF, rugby league’s world governing body, are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest. A point system is used, with points being awarded based on the results of RLIF-recognized international matches. Under the existing system, rankings are based on a team’s performance over the last three years, with more recent results and more significant matches being more heavily weighted to help reflect the current competitive state of a team.