It’s official: Finland has the worst-ranked rugby team in the world and as the sport’s elite continue to fight for the World Cup in New Zealand, the Finnish team will have to make do with watching the event on the television.
The International Rugby Board, responsible for producing the table of rankings, has placed Finland in 93rd place, lower than other low-scoring nations such as Peru, Guam and Cameroon.
Talking about the ranking, Steve Whittaker, the 35 year-old Brit who captains the team, denied that the ranking means Finland is the worst team on the planet. He explained that the IRB leaves many countries with national rugby teams off the list altogether, so Finland may not be all that bad.
Finland’s new position means the team only qualifies for the European Nations Cup. Of the other nations which compete – Cyprus, Luxembourg, Greece and Bulgaria – only Bulgaria has an IRB ranking. This means that if Finland beats any of the others, it has no bearing on its position at the bottom of the table.
Whittaker says that the sport needs more money and a better level of player participation if Finland is ever going to be taken seriously; adding that it is going to be impossible to improve in the rankings without the kind of money that is given over to rugby in other nations.
The IRB claims it is doing all it can to improve training in Finland’s schools through the provision of grants and the promotion of flag- and touch-rugby.
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Perhaps many of the players are suffering from depression and/or alcoholism and are having trouble performing on the field. Studies show that Finns suffer from these types of problems at a proportionally higher degree than other nationalities. Also, Rugby is a team sport, relying strongly on working with and getting along with other members of the team to achieve the win. Finns are by nature introverted loners who often have trouble getting along with other people, so teamwork, such as on a Rugby field, might be difficult for them. Finally, rather than Rugby, many Finns might be putting forth their effort into training for and participating in the important “wife carrying contest”, “cell phone throwing contest” or “air guitar contest” that they do seem to do quite well in.