After winning the Six Nations and the Grand Slam after an undefeated season, it increasingly appears that France will be favourites at the Rugby World Cup next year.
With a third of a rating point earned for their 25-13 Grand Slam-winning victory over England in Paris on Saturday night, Les Bleus now have 88.88 points compared to the All Blacks’ 88.75.
France are now set for their longest run at number two in the rankings having last occupied the position for one week only back in October 2007.
Les Bleus have never been at number one but are now only 1.72 points behind South Africa at the top of the rankings.
The Springboks have not faced France since 2018 when they secured a narrow victory – which was their seventh win in succession against Les Bleus, who last claimed a win in 2009 in Toulouse.
Interestingly, according to talk doing the rounds on social media, the Boks are now lining up a key fixture against France for later this year, which could take place in Paris or Marseille on 12 November.
The Boks are scheduled to face Wales in three Test matches in the Incoming Series in July, before hosting the All Blacks and Argentina in the Rugby Championship in August and September, SA Rugby has confirmed.
The away leg of the Rugby Championship will comprise of three Test matches – two against Australia, and one against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Wales are set to return to South Africa for the first time since 2014 as the Boks kick off their 2022 season with three Tests against the Dragons – at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday 2 July, Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein (9 July) and DHL Stadium in Cape Town (16 July).
The Boks will then launch the home leg of their Rugby Championship campaign three weeks later with back-to-back home Tests against the All Blacks – at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on 6 August, and a week later at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, on 13 August.
They will then depart for Australia for the away leg of the competition where they will meet the Wallabies on Saturday 27 August and again a week later, on 3 September (both venues to be confirmed), before their third away match against Argentina at Vélez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires on 17 September.
South Africa will conclude their Rugby Championship campaign with a home Test against Los Pumas at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, 24 September.
TOP 20 IN THE LATEST WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS, WITH THE BOKS STILL AT NO 1:
1. South Africa 90.61
2. France 88.88
3. New Zealand 88.75
4. Ireland 88.22
5. England 84.50
6. Australia 83.92
7. Scotland 81.80
8. Argentina 80.58
9. Wales 79.28
10. Japan 78.26
11. Fiji 76.62
12. Georgia 73.78
13. Samoa 73.59
14. Italy 72.33
15. Spain 68.26
16. Tonga 67.72
17. Romania 66.95
18. USA 66.54
19. Uruguay 66.40
20. Portugal 65.72
24. Namibia 59.72
34. Zimbabwe 51.82