The French have a deep history in the World Championship, with their qualification for Poland 2014 marking their 15th appearance in 18 editions. One of 10 teams to compete in the inaugural tournament in Czechoslovakia in 1949, the French have finished in the top three on just one occasion so far – in Argentina 2002 when they took third place after failing to qualify for the 1994 and 1998 events. Aside from that bronze medal, the nation’s highest World Championship finish has been sixth, a feat it has achieved on four occasions (1949, 1952, 1986, 2006). In 2010 France finished 11th.
France’s record beyond the World Championships is also mixed. They finished second behind Brazil in the 2006 World League, but have struggled to live up to that promise in the subsequent eight years.
They failed to qualify for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, after which they replaced Philippe Blain as coach, bringing in one of the country’s greatest ever players Laurent Tillie. Under Tillie, France finished 10th in the 2013 World League and also fifth place at the 2013 European Championship before qualifying for Poland in January as the best second-placed team in the European qualification groups. They also completed an impressive 2014 World League campaign before suffering a surprise defeat to Australia in the Group 2 final.