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Date: 8/20/2015

When France step on the court for the 2015 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship final this evening in Ekaterinburg, Russia, it will be the third Men’s World Championship for the nation this year – with two out of two victories so far.

France defeated Qatar 25:22 in the final at the 25th Men’s World Championship in January this year after blitzing through the tournament undefeated. The World Championship title was their fifth, and not only that, it wrote them into history as the simultaneous holders of the World, Olympic and European title – the three biggest most prestigious, competitive events on the international handball calendar. This was the second time France achieved the feat after they won the Olympic Games in 2008, the World Championship in 2009 and the EHF Euro 2010, and they are the only side ever to do so. 

Six months later in Uberlandia, Brazil, the France Under-21 team took on Denmark in the final of the 2015 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship. They too raised the trophy with a 26:24 victory, after proceeding through the group phase undefeated, beating Norway in the Eighth-Final, defeating Romania in the Quarter-Final and knocking out Egypt in the Semi-Final. 

France coach Johan Delattre said he was most proud of his team for their unbeaten run through the tournament:

“It was like a dream because we won all our games – all nine. Generally most champions do not win all of their games, so I was very proud of that. During the competition we just took it match after match and not more, because it’s a young team and we just need to do one thing at a time.

“The senior team is world champion, the junior team are world champions and the youth team were European champions last year, so there are three teams with very good results.”

In fact the same day IHF.info spoke with Delattre, another France team was stepping onto the podium – the Under-17 team were crowned champions of the 2015 Men’s European Youth Olympic Festival in Tbilisi, Georgia with, coincidentally, a 30:28 win against Slovenia in the final. 

“In France we have a very good structure. French handball is a miracle, but it’s because we work very hard and so we can achieve these things,” says Delattre. 

Senior team coach Claude Onesta agrees that the structure and team work are the key to their successful system:

“People respect each other a lot, share a lot and work together a lot. It is a smart team with players of great value.

“When international players leave and young players arrive at almost the same level, this shows that the French system constantly produces high-quality players.” 

For junior France captain Alexandre Saidani, the key to their victory in the final against Denmark was simple:

"Our strong mentality was the difference. No one can beat us because we are a big family."

Delattre spoke about the Under-19 team’s chances at Russia 2015 ahead of the competition:

“They have a good chance to become world champions, because last year they were European champions, and generally the European champions have a really good chance to become world champions. I think, and I hope, that they can take the title.”

So far the team at Russia 2015 have followed the footsteps of their older compatriots, with one small blip on their record – a draw against their finalist opponent, Slovenia, in the group phase. Their spectacular performance in the Semi-Final, where they eliminated Spain just as the senior team did at Qatar 2015, showed they are ready to put on a great show today. 

Can they be the third France team to raise the World Championship trophy this year?