Six Nations leaders France have moved into their highest position on the World Rugby men’s rankings in over six years following their win over Wales on the weekend.

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The 27-23 victory in Cardiff kept their undefeated run in the Six Nations alive with three wins from as many outings, and Fabien GalthiĆ©’s side are in pole position for a Grand Slam title as they lie in first place with matches against Scotland in Edinburgh and Ireland in Paris remaining.

Their prior wins over England, Italy and now Wales have now been recognised by the world rankings system, as Les Bleus have been elevated to fifth place for the first time since February 2014.

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Their rise through the rankings – they started in seventh spot leading into the Six Nations – is indicative of the young French side’s performances in the tournament, which they are primed to win for the first time in a decade.

Should they maintain their unbeaten status throughout the remainder of the competition, the three-time World Cup finalists would claim their first Grand Slam title in the Six Nations era, with their last undefeated run to the crown coming in the 1998 Five Nations.

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Such a rich vein of form represents France’s remarkable turnaround in fortunes under the guidance of GalthiĆ©, who took over as the national side’s head coach from Jacques Brunel following last year’s exit from the World Cup at the quarter-final stage.

France wasn’t the only top-tier nation to receive a boost up the world rankings, as Scotland’s 17-0 win over Italy in Rome over the weekend lifted them ahead of Japan into eighth place for the first time since last September.

Other climbers in the most recent update of the world rankings include Tonga, who benefit from Italy’s defeat to move into 13th, as well as the USA and Uruguay.

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Both of those nations capitalised on Spain’s back-to-back Rugby Europe Championship losses to Georgia and Romania in consecutive weeks to move into 16th and 17th spot, respectively.

The world rankings take on extra importance this year as they will be used to determine the seedings for the group stages of the 2023 World Cup in France.

The draw for the next World Cup is scheduled to take place in Paris on November 30, with the rankings being used to separate the 12 automatic qualifiers – South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, Australia, Ireland, France, Italy, Argentina, Fiji and Scotland – from each other.

The 12 nations will be split into three bands of four teams, with the top four-ranked countries on the day of the draw going into Band 1, the next four highest sides into Band 2, and the remaining three outfits into Band 3.

Bands 4 and 5 will be made up by the remaining eight qualifying teams, which will be determined through regional and global qualifying processes over the next three years.

Teams can then only be drawn into a pool with sides from other bands, making it imperative for automatically-qualified sides to push for a top four or top eight ranking come the end of November to avoid a potentially tougher pool stage draw at the next World Cup.

As it stands, France’s fifth place ranking would place them in Band 2 alongside Wales, Australia and Scotland, which would mean they would be grouped with one of the world’s top four sides from Band 1 in either South Africa, New Zealand, England or Ireland.

France will continue their quest for Six Nations glory – and further promotion up the world rankings – next Sunday when they face Scotland at Murrayfield.

World Rugby Rankings Top 10

1 – South Africa (94.19)

2 – New Zealand (92.11)

3 – England (88.25)

4 – Ireland (84.91)

5 – France (83.86)

6 – Wales (82.79)

7 – Australia (81.90)

8 – Scotland (79.55)

9 – Japan (79.28)

10 – Argentina (78.31)

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