South Africa is the highest ranked African country, slotting in at 12th while Uganda are ranked 39th in the world and third in the continent.
Introduction of the women’s rankings furthers anticipation ahead of an exciting 18 months of test rugby that will culminate with the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland.
“World Rugby is committed to driving forward the competitiveness of the women’s game and the new rankings are yet another significant milestone.
After the success of Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014 and the excitement building up to the next edition in Ireland, it’s vital for international teams to have a rankings focus that will drive exposure and interest as well as increasing the competition schedule, as it encourages member unions to play more test matches,” World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset announced.
The new system will be a weighted with the number of points available to the winning team proportional to the difference in ranking points between the teams prior to the match.
World Rugby World Rankings are calculated using a ‘points exchange’ system, in which sides take points off each other based on the match result. Whatever one side gains, the other loses.
As a result of the relatively small number of matches compared to the men’s and the discrepancies in the number of matches played by different unions, the effect that one result will have on the rankings could unfairly twist the result.
To combat this effect, it has been decided to start all teams out on 80 ranking points (an arbitrarily chosen figure which does not have any bearing on the subsequent results of the rankings) then for each year between 1987 and the year that an individual union played their first women’s full international match two points are deducted from their total.
This deduction occurs up until 2007, so if a team plays their first ever full international after 2007 then they will begin with 40 ranking points.
Similar to the men’s rankings, teams will be penalised an equivalent amount to a loss to a significantly lower ranked team per year if they do not play any matches in the space of two calendar years.