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Labeled as a team that hasn’t yet fulfilled its potential on the World League stage, France are in desperate need of a star studded performance to silence the critics who have been pilloring their past performances in this event. Failure to reach the finals in Madrid in 2003 meant that Les Blues had to settle for a 10th place finish before a more respectable 5th place finish last year.

Coach Philippe Blain has singled out the 2005 World League competition as his side's most important event this year, with his team looking for ideal preparation ahead of a 2006 World Championship third round assignment in July under the leadership of new captain Stéphane Antiga.

Blain, who led the Blues to a surprise bronze medal finish at the last World Championships in Argentina in 2002, believes he has the makings of a very strong team in 2005 and says this year's World League will be the ideal platform for his team to start to hit their straps.

"The World League is the best chance for the younger players to gain valuable experience and it will also give us an ideal preparation opportunity ahead of the third round of the World Championship, which we have a few weeks later," Blain said. "Our pool in the World League is very difficult even if, like the Blues, the other teams participating have been forced to make changes and modify their squads."

France has seen two core players from previous seasons, Laurent Carpet and Loïc De Kergret, retire while last year’s captain Dominique Daquin has been rested but the nucleus of their 2002 World Championship side remains with Hubert Henno, Antiga, Frantz Granvorka, Vincent Montmeat, Philippe Barca-Cysique, Mathias Patin, Oliver Kieffer and Sebastien Frangolacci all included.

France’s 5th place finish last year matched their best finish (three times) in their nine years of competing. However their Olympic campaign in Athens last year ended in a disappointing fashion when they missed out on the quarterfinals behind Serbia and Montenegro, Greece, Argentina and Poland to finish ninth.

France will play Cuba, Bulgaria and last year's runner's up Italy in Pool B in which is another tough assignment but on their day France can beat any of them. They will obviously need to call on all their resources and rich Volleyball history if they are to have some success in 2005.

France and its capital, Paris, have played an immensely important role for the development of international Volleyball. At a meeting held in Paris from April 18-20, 1947, Volleyball federations from 14 countries founded the Federation International de Volleyball (FIVB), the sport's governing body. Now, with its 218 affiliated national federations, the FIVB is the largest international sports federation in the world and boasts no less than 34,780,153 registered players and millions more who play the sport recreationally.

It was again Paris, who hosted the third World Championship in 1956 with 24 men's teams from four continents. That time France finished seventh. At another World Championship held in Paris 30 years later the French side finished sixth. In 2002, France pulled off one of the major surprises at the World Championship in Argentina when they overwhelmed the Olympic champions Yugoslavia to claim the bronze and set off a frenzy of media reporting on the national team. To add more glory to the teams best ever performance, Frantz Granvorka became the tournament's Best Server while Hubert Henno was awarded the Best Digger.

During the 1980s, France also fought to the top spot in Europe, winning the silver medal at the European Championship in 1987 (Belgium) and the bronze in 1985 (the Netherlands).

France also participated in the opening three editions of the World League before returning to the elite competition in 2000. In 2001, France qualified for the finals for the first time to finish fifth. In 2002, the French had a great start, winning the preliminary phase pool but the finals turned out to be a disappointment and gave no warning to their opposition that two months later they would power back into the international limelight and claim the World Championship bronze medal in Argentina.

Overall Standings for France
World League Played Total Matches played Win Lost % Wins
9 118 54 64 45.8