Why SIMS - not Tests

Published by IntRL
01 Jan 2023
Why SIMS not Tests

In 2020 IRL adopted the term Senior International Match to determine a match that would count towards world rankings points. The term ‘Test’ match, while remaining a part of the game’s cultural traditions and history, is not an official term used by the IRL. When compiling a list of recognised ‘Full International’ matches (see 6 below), IRL has considered historic games against the current Senior International Match definition, which is broader than the more limited ‘Test’ match scope applied inconsistently by certain individual nations. This is primarily due to the reasons outlined below.

1. The Test term was first used in the 1800s in relation to cricket matches, initially in the press, before being adopted formally by the game’s organisers for internationals. When international rugby league started being contested between countries in the British Empire who also played cricket, the term transferred across to become used for games between these nations.

2. The term is used in cricket to define a particular version of the sport, one that is distinct from other versions of the game. Cricket is unique amongst other sports in having a global governing body that determines the Test status of competing nations. Very few sports actually use the term, and the others that do (e.g. rugby union & netball), do not have an International Federation (IF) conferring Test status on games / nations, but rather individual national federations (NFs) determine whether games are Tests or not. In nations that do not compete in cricket (i.e. those outside what was the British Empire) Test is not a familiar term when referring to international sport, although France has come to adopt the term through its rugby connections.

3. There is no definition of what a Test match is. In rugby league Test match status was applied arbitrarily by NFs at different points in the sport’s history. (This has resulted in some matches being considered as Tests by only one of the two participants.) Throughout this time, the IF did not confer Test status on matches or nations. In 2011 the International Competitions Sub-Committee of IRL proposed that the term should not be used to determine the status of games, and it would no longer be officially used by the IF; rather, a uniform set of criteria would be introduced, for the first time, to define the status of an international match.

4. Historically, Rugby League World Cup matches were not always awarded Test status as they were not considered the pinnacle of the sport internationally. Arguably, they are now, as they are in every other sport that has a world cup.

5. Disagreements persist over whether certain games are Tests. For example, New Zealand Rugby League classifies games played against England or Wales as Tests, but the Rugby Football League (RFL) in the UK that selected these teams do not consider them as such. Likewise Fédération Française de Rugby XIII recognise as Tests certain games played against representative sides arranged by the RFL which are not considered by the RFL to be a Test playing team.

6. Historically, numerous matches have been recognised as Full International games by different NFs, but not Tests, and to reclassify these matches all to Test status would likely prove highly controversial and contentious. Alternatively, recognising only games historically referred to as Tests by both participants would eliminate whole tournaments of major significance (such as the European Championship), and drastically impact the number of matches listed for certain nations (especially Wales & France). Having a two tiered system of Tests and Other Internationals is considered against the ethos of rugby league, and is inconsistent with almost all other global sports.

A Senior International match is any match in which a player represents a NF, where such match has been sanctioned and recognised by IRL and the relevant NFs as a match played between Senior National Teams, which are national teams of a member NF playing in a Match for world rankings points.

Use of the official term Senior International Match does not prevent NFs from applying the term ‘Test’ unilaterally and does not affect the historic application of the term to long-established ‘Test’ matches. Indeed, in its published list of Full Internationals, IRL has applied the label to historic matches that were not part of any other officially named tournament where one or more NF has treated the game as a ‘Test’. This is intended to reflect the conventions of the time, which have since been carried