The French Men’s National Team announced their arrival
as one of the best teams in the world when they finished second to Brazil in
the 2006 FIVB World League Finals in Moscow.
The French, who
finished fifth in the first-ever World League in 1990, negociated a tricky
passage through to the Finals, playing in Russia, China and Italy.
By the end of August, it was mission accomplished. Head Coach Philippe Blain’s Men had booked themselves
a place in Moscow after winning Pool matches against the Russians, Italians and
Chinese, home and away.
In the Final, France lost in five sets to Brazil, but
it was still their crowning glory so far in the world of Volleyball, and set
them up nicely for the 2006 FIVB World Championship in Japan.
France had won the
bronze medal at the 2002 FIVB World Championship in Buenos Aires, their first
appearance in the tournament in 12 years moving them from 10th to fifth in the
FIVB world rankings, and after their silver medal at the 2003 European Championship
and the impressive World League performance three years later they had every
right to be in a confident mood.
The 2006 World
Championships started very well for the French when they beat Brazil, which
would prove to be the only defeat of the event for the eventual winners.
Unfortunately, the young French team did not
capitalize on the Brazil result and a few days later lost to Germany, which
negated all the benefits of the Brazil win.
During the second phase, France lost to Bulgaria in an
incredible game, killing off any lingering hopes of French glory and they
finally finished sixth after losing to Italy in a Playoff.
In the 2007 World
League Preliminary Round, the French were up against Japan, Italy and USA. Victims of the Americans, the French missed out on
first place in their Pool. Blain and his players were given a lifeline, though,
with a wild card for the final phase in Katowice, Poland. But after losing a five-set match against Poland, the
French team are on their way home.
The French had to quickly
pick themselves up in November 2007 for the European Championship in Saint
Petersburg and Moscow. Bad news struck, though, when Blain lost three of his
major players. Frantz Granvorka and Oliver Kieffer were injured just before
leaving France, and Pierre Pujol was ruled out of the rest of the tournament
after injuring his ankle in the first set of the first game against Slovakia.
Even so, France
started well with two victories versus Slovakia and Slovenia before losing to
Spain. But in this second phase, the French lost against Serbia, Netherlands
and Germany to finish ninth.
In 2008, France
missed the main goal of the last years: participation to the Olympic Games.
After this terrible disappointment, Philippe Blain squad did not make a success
of the world League on 2008. Third of its group in front of Brazil and of
Serbia, France will end on the 10th place.
In 2009, the French
had the opportunity to reach the Final Six in the World League. Serbia, host
country for the final, was qualified but France failed to take the second
ticket on the last game in Argentina. In the middle of the summer, France
booked the qualification for World Championships in Poland after beating
Slovakia and Slovenia. Bad news: Pierre Pujol, the setter, was injured for 3 months
and Loïc Le Marrec decided to retire from international team.
In Turkey, for the
European championships, French squad was not attempted for the final round. Two
new setters completed the team and Yannick Bazin started to lead the games with
success: step by step France reached the Main Round and the Final round after
beating the European holder, Spain. In semi-final, France was leading 2-0
against Russia and was close to lose after 2-2 and 9-13. But Philippe Blain
players came back and Guillaume Samica, with a last ace, concluded the match
In the final, Poland beat France (3-1) to conquer the
European title. Antonin
Rouzier (best scorer), Hubert Henno and Stéphane Antiga were elected in the all
star team. France, six years after, clinched the silver medal in the European
In 2010, France played the FIVB World League (with Serbia, China and Italia)
but didn’t reach the final round. After a very good start in the World
championships 2010 in Italy, French team missed to enter the last four and had
to play the ranking matches. France finished at the 11th place.
During the winter, three top players decided to retire form the national team:
Hubert Henno, Libero, Stéphane Antiga and captain Oliver Kieffer.
In 2011, French squad took the 7th place at
the European Championship hold in Austria and Czech Republic. In Tourcoing
(France), French failed to qualify for the European Tournament Qualifying for
OG: they lost in semi-final vs Belgium. Last chance for French squad will be
the one of the last three tournaments for London in Germany or Italy, from 8th
to 10th June.
With Italy, Usa and Korea Republic, the Blues will try
to perform in the FIVB World League 2012, to prepare qualification for the
Olympic games in London 2012.