What better way to reward a season punctuated by ten successes in as many games than to reach the first place in the world for the XV of France? Third in the World Rugby ranking before this weekend, the Blues will ascend the throne for the first time in their history, overtaking New Zealand and South Africa thanks to their second victory in Japan (20 -15) combined with the defeats of these southern nations.
If French collective sport is regularly praised for its fine performances, between the Football World Cup in 1998 and 2018, the Olympic title for volleyball players in 2021, the multiple medals for basketball players or the raid of handball experts for more than a decade, few teams have managed to reach first place in the world rankings of their discipline.
The footballers carried by their major titles
Before the announcement of this good news for the men of Fabien Galthié, only the French football team had achieved the feat of interfering in the first world rank. Still behind Brazil in the FIFA rankings despite their victory in the final of the 1998 World Cup (3-0), the French had to wait almost a year after their title at Euro 2000, in May 2001, to access at the Grail. A status they held for 396 days, without interruption, ending the year on the throne for the first and only time in their history. A small feat, since France was the only nation to dislodge Brazil between July 1994 and January 2007.
Fallen from this position after their poor performance at the 2002 World Cup, the Tricolores regained first place in the standings after their second world champion title in 2018. With 1,726 points, they were just ahead of Belgium (1,723 pts) and Brazil (1,657 pts) on August 16. But at the end of October, Kylian Mbappé’s teammates lost this crown to Belgium, and have not taken it back since.
Lots of catwalks
For most of them, the French teams play the leading roles on the world stage. The women’s XV of France now ranks third in the World Rugby rankings. A rank they discovered thanks to their bronze medal at the 2017 World Cup. The same goes for the footballers, who are currently third in the world. The French women have even been regularly present on the podium since 2014. Waiting for better?
In basketball, the Blues, for both men and women, are among the five or six major nations in the FIBA rankings, but remain barred by teams like the United States, Spain or Australia in their quest for the throne. On the volleyball side, the French men’s team has made great progress in recent years, between its two titles in the World League (2015 and 2017), that at the European Championships (2015) and its gold medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and settled on the podium of the world ranking (third behind Poland and Brazil). However, there is no similar ranking for handball, where French teams have outperformed in recent years with, among other things, two Olympic titles in Tokyo.