France men's national handball team

The France national handball team is supervised by the French Handball Federation, and represents France in international matches. It is the first handball team to have held all three titles twice (the Danish women's team also held all three in 1997), and the only national team in its sport to hold six world titles and a total of eleven medals at the World Men's Handball Championship. With a total of four medals, including two gold in 2008 and 2012, France is also the most successful Handball team at the Summer Olympics. France's men handball team is widely regarded as the finest national team in the history of the sport.

Nickname1992: les Bronzés
1993–1996: les Barjots
2001–2008: les Costauds
2008–2017: les Experts
AssociationFrench Handball Federation
CoachGuillaume Gille
Assistant coachÉrick Mathé
Olivier Maurelli
CaptainMichaël Guigou
Most capsJackson Richardson (417)
Most goalsJérôme Fernandez (1,463)
Summer Olympics
Appearances7 (First in 1992)
Best result1st (2008, 2012)
World Championship
Appearances23 (First in 1954)
Best result1st (1995, 2001, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2017)
European Championship
Appearances14 (First in 1994)
Best result1st (2006, 2010, 2014)
Last updated on Unknown.
France men's national handball team
Medal record
Olympic Games
2008 BeijingTeam
2012 LondonTeam
2016 Rio de JaneiroTeam
1992 BarcelonaTeam
World Championship
1995 Iceland
2001 France
2009 Croatia
2011 Sweden
2015 Qatar
2017 France
1993 Sweden
1997 Japan
2003 Portugal
2005 Tunisia
2019 Germany/Denmark
European Championship
2006 Switzerland
2010 Austria
2014 Denmark
2008 Norway
2018 Croatia

Results at international tournaments

Since the 1990s, France has emerged as a major handball team. France won the bronze medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics, giving birth to their first nickname: les Bronzés (meaning tanned in French, a reference both to bronze and to cult French film Les Bronzés). This led to an increased popularity of the sport in France, which was already one of the most popular in primary and secondary schools.

One year after their Olympic medal, les Bronzés reached the final of the 1993 World Championship, which they lost against Russia.

In 1995, France won the World Championship in Iceland, defeating Croatia in the final. The team became known as les Barjots because the players played the final with an extravagant haircut (barjot is a slang word for crazy in French).

The team finished 4th in the 1996 Summer Olympics (France lost the bronze medal game to Spain, whom they had beaten in the first round). France finished third a year later in the 1997 World Championship. The team finished 6th in the 1999 World Championship and in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

France won the world title again in the 2001 World Championship organised in France. During both their quarterfinal and final, against Germany and Sweden respectively, they were one goal behind until a few seconds before the end of the game, but scored a late goal and finally win in overtime with a three-goal margin. This great strength of character was cause for their new nickname: les Costauds (the strong, or the tough). Five members of les Costauds had already been world champions in 1995 with les Barjots: Jackson Richardson, Grégory Anquetil, Patrick Cazal, and the goalkeepers Bruno Martini and Christian Gaudin.

The team finished third in the 2003 World Championship. In the 2004 Olympics, the teamed finished 5th. Although they won their five games of the preliminary round, the team went down to an ageing Russian team led by 42-year-old goalkeeper Andrey Lavrov in the quarterfinals (24–26).

In the 2005 World Championship, France finished third again. This was the last international competition played by Jackson Richardson, a veteran from the first team les Bronzés. The retirement of their star meant for the French team the final transition between the early successes and the new generation of players.

In 2006 France won for the first time the European Championship, a competition in which they had never won a medal until then. In the final, they overwhelmed Spain, the reigning world champions (31–23), against whom they had lost the opening match in the preliminary round.

In 2008, France finished third in the European Championship. They were undefeated until the semi-final, which they lost to Croatia.

France won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics. The French players elected to call themselves Les Experts, which is the French title for the TV show CSI in France. The team won the gold medal in the 2008 handball tournament in Beijing, defeating underdogs Iceland in the final (28–23). Thierry Omeyer, Daniel Narcisse and Bertrand Gille were voted into the tournament's All Star team.

France won the world title again in 2009 at the 2009 World Championship, hosted by Croatia, against the organizing country, and the European title in 2010 in Austria, once more against Croatia. As a result, they became the first men's team to hold the three major titles in the sport (olympic title, world title and European title) simultaneously (Denmark women's national handball team held all three titles in 1997). It also became the third team to have won all three titles ever, the other two being Germany and Russia.

In the 2011 World Championship, France held its title, winning against Denmark (37–35 after extra time). This victory, in addition to granting an automatic participation to the 2012 Olympics, marked several achievements:

  • it became, with Romania (1964, 1974) and Sweden (1958), one of the few handball teams (on the men's side) to have successfully defended a world champion status;
  • it became (and is the only, so far) the only national handball team in history to have won four major titles in a row;
  • three players on the team (Jérôme Fernandez, Thierry Omeyer and Didier Dinart) achieved three world champions titles – putting them on par with Cornel Oţelea from Romania in the 60s (had he been present in 2009, Bertrand Gille would also have been one of them, but he missed 2009 due to injuries).

The 2012 and 2013 years were a mixed bag for the team; after an unexpected setback at the 2012 European championship where the team ended up in 11th place, it went on to be the first national handball team to retain the Olympic title at the London Olympic games. In 2013, they ended up being defeated by Croatia in this year's world championship.

2014 saw France regain its European title after losing it in 2012. Of note is that just like in 2009, the team ended up winning the final against the host country.

In 2015, they won their 5th World Champion title against host country Qatar. Thierry Omeyer was elected Most Valuable Player of the tournament; this was the first time in the IHF history that a goalkeeper was elected as an MVP. By doing so, they became the first team in the history of the sport to hold the three major titles for the second time.

In 2016, Les Experts lost their Olympic title in Rio, finishing second after a defeat in final against Denmark.

In 2017, they won their 6th World Champion title at home against Norway (33–26). Nikola Karabatic was elected Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Thierry Omeyer and Daniel Narcisse retired after the tournament, with two Olympic gold medals, three European titles, and respectively five and four world championship titles.


Olympic Games
World Championship
European Championship

Olympic Games 2114
World Championship 61411
European Championship 3025

Competitive record

  Champions    Runners-up    Third place    Fourth place  

Olympic Games

Games Round Position Pld W D L GF GA GD
1936 Berlin Did not participate
1972 Munich Did not qualify
1976 Montreal
1980 Moscow
1984 Los Angeles
1988 Seoul
1992 Barcelona Third place 3rd of 12 7 5 0 2 157 143 +14
1996 Atlanta Fourth place 4th of 12 7 4 0 3 190 165 +25
2000 Sydney Match for 5th place 6th of 12 8 4 1 3 192 182 +10
2004 Athens Match for 5th place 5th of 12 8 7 0 1 221 176 +45
2008 Beijing Champions 1st of 12 8 7 1 0 228 185 +43
2012 London Champions 1st of 12 8 7 0 1 229 175 +54
2016 Rio de Janeiro Runners-up 2nd of 12 8 6 0 2 241 201 +40
2020 Tokyo Qualified
2024 Paris Qualified (host country)
Total 9/15 2 Titles 54 40 2 12 1,458 1,227 +231

World Championship

Year Round Position GP W D L GS GA
1938Did not qualify
1954Preliminary Round630122661
1958Preliminary Round931026657
1961Main Round861054273
1964Preliminary Round1430034164
1967Preliminary Round1031023441
1970Preliminary Round11610580105
1974Did not qualify
1978Preliminary Round1630035497
1982Did not qualify
1986Did not qualify
1990Second round96213138138
1997Third place9702223206
2003Third place10802286218
2005Third place10622301240
2007Fourth place410604300243
/ 2019Third place10712278251
2021Fourth place49702267250
/ 2023TBD
// 2025
Total25/286 titles1691136*5043343814

European Championship

Year Round Position GP W D L GS GA
19945th/6th place65212123120
19967th/8th place75302130120
19987th/8th place75113110125
2000Fourth place47412173164
20025th/6th place66321152136
20045th/6th place66303163154
2006Champions1 8701243192
2008Third place3 8602231207
2010Champions1 8620225196
2012Main round116213156163
2014Champions1 8701259227
20165th/6th place57502210182
2018Third place3 8701244212
2020Preliminary round1431028279
2024To be determined
Total15/153 titles90578*2525012277
*Denotes draws include knockout matches decided in a penalty shootout.

Current squad

Squad for the 2021 World Men's Handball Championship.[1][2]

Head coach: Guillaume Gille

No. Pos. Name Date of birth (age) Height App. Goals Club
2 RW Yanis Lenne (1996-06-29) 29 June 1996 (age 24) 1.88 m 16 17 Montpellier Handball
5 RB Nedim Remili (1995-07-18) 18 July 1995 (age 25) 1.95 m 69 216 Paris Saint-Germain
7 CB Romain Lagarde (1997-03-05) 5 March 1997 (age 24) 1.94 m 39 52 Rhein-Neckar Löwen
9 CB Melvyn Richardson (1997-01-30) 30 January 1997 (age 24) 1.90 m 22 47 Montpellier Handball
10 RB Dika Mem (1997-08-31) 31 August 1997 (age 23) 1.94 m 52 133 Barça
11 P Nicolas Tournat (1994-04-05) 5 April 1994 (age 27) 2.00 m 31 29 Łomża Vive Kielce
12 GK Vincent Gérard (1986-12-16) 16 December 1986 (age 34) 1.89 m 97 14 Paris Saint-Germain
14 CB Kentin Mahé (1991-05-22) 22 May 1991 (age 30) 1.86 m 107 354 Telekom Veszprém
16 GK Yann Genty (1981-12-26) 26 December 1981 (age 39) 1.85 m 6 0 Paris Saint-Germain
17 LB Timothey N'Guessan (1992-09-18) 18 September 1992 (age 28) 1.96 m 78 145 Barça
19 RW Luc Abalo (1984-09-06) 6 September 1984 (age 36) 1.83 m 262 805 Elverum Håndball
21 LW Michaël Guigou (1982-01-28) 28 January 1982 (age 39) 1.80 m 283 970 USAM Nîmes Gard
22 P Luka Karabatić (1988-04-19) 19 April 1988 (age 33) 2.02 m 103 120 Paris Saint-Germain
23 P Ludovic Fabregas (1996-07-01) 1 July 1996 (age 24) 1.98 m 72 131 Barça
24 GK Wesley Pardin (1990-01-01) 1 January 1990 (age 31) 1.95 m 17 0 Pays d’Aix UC
25 LW Hugo Descat (1992-08-16) 16 August 1992 (age 28) 1.83 m 2 0 Montpellier Handball
26 CB Nicolas Claire (1987-07-10) 10 July 1987 (age 33) 1.90 m 45 45 Pays d’Aix UC
27 RB Adrien Dipanda (1988-05-03) 3 May 1988 (age 33) 2.02 m 77 91 Saint-Raphaël Var Handball
28 RW Valentin Porte (1990-09-07) 7 September 1990 (age 30) 1.90 m 108 313 Montpellier Handball
37 LB Jean-Jacques Acquevillo (1989-01-17) 17 January 1989 (age 32) 1.95 m 2 7 USAM Nîmes Gard
92 GK Remi Desbonnet (1992-02-28) 28 February 1992 (age 29) 1.82 m 0 0 USAM Nîmes Gard


Kit suppliers

Since 2002, France's kit is supplied by Adidas.

Media Coverage

France's matches are currently televised by beIN Sports since 2015.


  1. "#EDFM – Une nouvelle liste de 20 joueurs". (in French). 30 December 2020.
  2. "Team Roster France" (PDF). 15 January 2021. Retrieved 18 January 2021.