France rose to the top of the male rugby union world ranking the first time that New Zealand fell to a record low of fourth place after a tight exit test.
Six Nations Grand Slam Champions FranceA hard-fought 20:15 away win against Japan on Saturday was followed by home defeats by New Zealand and world champion South Africa.
As a result, Les Bleus, which ended a 12-year wait for a Grand Slam tournament in March, moved up to first place on Monday, beating Ireland by almost two-thirds of a point, which moved up two spots to second.
“This is a huge success for all of French rugby,” said Bernard Laporte, President of the French Rugby Federation, in a Twitter post.
“First Place Rugby Ranking”
“For the first time in its XV history, France has reached the 1st place in the world rankings.
“Thank you to the players, (head coach) Fabien Galtier, (team manager) Rafael Ibanez and his staff. Thanks to professional clubs (French club league) LNR and amateur rugby.”
Ireland would have come out on top, but Will Jordan’s late attempt for the home team resulted in a 23–12 victory over the All Blacks in Dunedin, below the required 16 points.
The All Blacks’ loss to Ireland dropped them two places to fourth.
Ireland’s first win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil set the series decider in Wellington this coming Saturday.
France, which hosts the World Cup next year, and Ireland, which are first and second, mark the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 that teams from the northern hemisphere have taken the top two places.
South Africa started the July International tournament at the top of the rankings but fell to third after a dramatic 13-12 defeat by Wales in Bloemfontein.
England and Scotland’s victories over Australia and Argentina respectively lifted them above their defeated rivals to finish fifth and seventh respectively.
The Wallabies dropped to sixth and the Pumas to ninth, down two places.
Meanwhile, Georgia rose above Italy to finish 12th after beating the Azzurri 28-19 in Batumi on Sunday.