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Rugby

France move up to fifth in rugby world rankings

Romain Ntamack's 39 points during the 2020 Six Nations competition have helped France to the top of the table.
Romain Ntamack's 39 points during the 2020 Six Nations competition have helped France to the top of the table. Reuters/Peter Cziborra

France's third win in the 2020 Six Nations tournament propelled them up to fifth in the latest rugby union world rankings published on Monday.

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Fabien Gathié's edged past Wales 27-23 in Cardiff on Saturday to lead the Six Nations table with 13 points.

England, who France beat 24-17 on the opening day of the tournament, are second with nine points following their 24-12 victory over Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday.

While France are on the rise, the English stay in third spot in the world rankings behind South Africa and New Zealand. Ireland are fourth.

France went into the Six Nations as the seventh best team in the world. But the triumphs over England, Italy and Wales have moved them up the World Rugby lists which have increased significance this year.

Significance

They will be used to determine the seedings for the group stages of the 2023 rugby World Cup that will be held in France.

Saturday's victory over Wales also underlined the advances made since Galthié took over from Jacques Brunel after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Romain Ntamack, who made his senior debut in the 2019 Six Nations competition, scored his third try of the 2020 tournament to lead the scoring charts with 39 points.

His skipper, Charles Ollivon, also boasts three tries in his first Six Nations as captain.

"We knew we could maintain the intensity," said Galthié said of his team which took to the field with a total of 234 caps collectively compared to Wales's tally of 859.

"We're progressing step by step and in Cardiff we took another step," added the former France international.

Prospect

Wins over Scotland on 8 March and Ireland in Paris six days later would furnish the French with their first Grand Slam of five victories for the first time since 2010.

"We're a bunch of mates and I think that shows on the park," said Ntamack. "We play with our heart, our guts, even if we're not dripping with experience.

"We could have been overwhelmed by the setting and the stadium in Cardiff but in the end we didn't care less about it, we just wanted to play and show we were capable of being the measure of the Welsh and that we could do it."

As France enhance their prowess, Italy's woes continue despite the presence of a new boss.

Franco Smith's side failed to trouble the scoreboard during the loss to Scotland who waltwed past them 17-0. It was the second time in the competition that Italy have not scored.

Italy are expected to finish with the "wooden spoon" - bottom of the table. They face Ireland and England in their final games.

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