It may be risky for rugby followers to look too far ahead but assuming the Rugby World Cup is held in France as planned in 2023 – Covid-19 and the game's increasingly concerning head injury crisis permitting – the host nation will be among the favourites to win it.
They will be a clear and present danger and for All Blacks supporters with unpleasant memories of the 1999 and 2007 tournaments (and even the virtually unbearable 2011 final) thanks to the mercurial and at times near miraculous performances by the French, there may be some more anxious times ahead.
After the French narrowly lost the Autumn Nations Cup final to England 22-19 in extra time at Twickenham at the weekend, there may also be extra interest among Tricolour supporters in the World Cup draw scheduled in Paris on Monday French time.
That's because they had no right to get that close given the inexperienced team coach Fabien Galthie was forced to select against England's strongest possible line-up, and in fact they were desperately unlucky to lose it in the end.
To say that England enjoyed the rub of the green from Irish referee Andrew Brace would be putting it mildly, but perhaps France flanker Cameron Woki summed it up when, still seething at some of Brace's interventions which helped England overturn a 12-19 deficit in the final minute, he told France 2: "The game was mostly played on the referee's decisions - it's embarrassing."
Coach Galthie, a former international and an interesting character himself, was missing 25 players due to an agreement reached between the French Federation and the nation's professional clubs, who didn't want to release them. It meant most of the players weren't known outside France. Some may not have been known outside their own boulevard.
That they lost the Six Nations to England only on points difference and were unbeaten in the Autumn Nations Cup until the final while pushing the unbackable favourites so close for nearly 100 minutes suggests the French have finally stumbled on a formula which will make them formidable opponents at home in just under three years' time.
It will lead to the next World Cup inevitably being described as the closest and hardest ever to win (like the last one and several before that) but there is little doubt about the threat posed by France, who are ranked fourth in the world behind third-ranked New Zealand. World champions South Africa, who didn't travel south for the recent Rugby Championship (which was therefore a Tri-Nations), remain first, with England second.
Of all the nations with serious intentions of winning in 2023 – the aforementioned four, plus Ireland, Australia and perhaps Scotland and Argentina – France have the most growth potential, and the experience gained by those players involved at Twickenham at the weekend will help their development considerably.
Their starting pack averaged two test caps per player but coped admirably and right wing Alivereti Raka, a 25-year-old Fijian who plays for Clermont, has real X-factor.
And while the agreement struck by the French Federation with the nations professional clubs recently may have been made out of necessity, the pairing of Galthie, a former halfback, and Shaun Edwards, the former Wasps and Wales defence coach, appears a stroke of genius.
The pugnacious Edwards, let go by Wales after last year's World Cup, has made an immediate difference to France, who let in only one try against England at the weekend (from a rolling maul in the 80th minute).
"He was my coach at Wasps, he's phenomenal; his mentality to defend is so important," former France flanker Serge Betsen told PA recently.
"When you get coached by Shaun Edwards, defence starts to become your attack. And that mindset is so important. I'm pleased that he's part of the staff."
Edwards is also said to have no ego, in stark contrast to Galthie, who, during his time with the Montpellier club is said to have enjoyed signing autographs for fans a little too much – to the point where on at least one occasion his players were left to their own devices at training.
How exquisite; Edwards may have brought with him a little Anglo Saxon order and structure, but the French flair and love of the unorthodox appears set to remain.