Dominant France at the top for the first time in the history of the world rugby rankings

Toulon flyhalf Louis Carbonel passes the ball during the French Rugby Top 14 match between Stade Toulousain Rugby and Toulon Rugby Club at the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse, southern France, on Sunday. Photo: AFP

France climbed to the top of the world men’s rugby union rankings for the first time, with New Zealand falling to a record fourth after a turbulent weekend of Test action.

Six Nations Grand Slam champions France’s hard-fought 20-15 victory over Japan on Saturday was followed by home defeats for New Zealand and world champions South Africa.

As a result, the Blues – who ended a 12-year wait for a Grand Slam in March – moved into first place on Monday, with a nearly two-thirds point lead over Ireland moving up two places in second place.

“This is the tremendous success of all of French rugby,” French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte said in a post on Twitter.

“For the first time in its history, the XV of France reached first place in the world rankings.”

“Thank you to the players, to [head coach] Fabien Galthie, [team manager] Raphaël Ibanez and his team. Thanks to professional clubs, [French club league] LNR and amateur rugby.”

Ireland would have been top but Will Jordan’s late try for the home side took the winning margin in the 23-12 win over the All Blacks in Dunedin below the required 16 points.

The All Blacks’ loss to Ireland dropped them two places to fourth place.

Ireland’s first win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil set up a series decider in Wellington this coming Saturday.

With 2022 World Cup hosts France and Ireland occupying first and second places, it is the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 that teams from the northern hemisphere have occupied both first places.

South Africa started the July internationals top of the table but fell to third place after a dramatic 13-12 loss to Wales in Bloemfontein.

Victories for England and Scotland over Australia and Argentina respectively lifted them above their beaten opponents to fifth and seventh respectively.

The Wallabies are demoted to sixth place, while the Pumas are ninth, a fall of two places.

Georgia, meanwhile, overtook Italy in 12th after beating the Azzurri 28-19 in Batumi on Sunday.

AFP

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