SCOTLAND will move above South Africa and into a best-ever sixth in the world if they can follow up their Six Nations victory over Ireland with a win against France this weekend.
The Scots strengthened their grip on seventh place in the rankings released by governing body World Rugby after a stunning 27-22 success at BT Murrayfield on Saturday, their first opening-day triumph since 2006.
Gaining 1.1 ranking points, they moved to within 0.22 points of South Africa in sixth, thanks to two tries from Stuart Hogg and an innovative score from Alex Dunbar, combined with an incredible defensive display.
However, Vern Cotter’s buoyant squad will have to create history if they are to leapfrog the Springboks, with the last win over France in Paris coming back in 1999, before the creation of the Six Nations.
Scotland were ranked as highly as sixth once before, in 2010, but plummeted to their lowest of 12th as recently as 2015, just before the World Cup in England.
The rankings are key this year as they will determine the seeds when the draw for the four pools at the 2019 World Cup is made in May.
It is important for Scotland to at least remain in the top eight to give them the chance of a more favourable draw as a second seed.
But, with just 1.79 ranking points now separating them from Ireland in fourth, a top seeding is not out of reach if they can maintain their current form.
Rankings: 1. New Zealand 94.78 pts. 2. England 90.46. 3. Australia 86.35. 4. Ireland 83.53. 5. Wales 82.99. 6. South Africa 81.79. 7. Scotland 81.77. 8. France 80.13. 9. Argentina 79.91. 10. Fiji 76.46.