The French women’s water polo team won two bronze medals at the European Championships in the 80s, but, unlike the men’s team which has improved a lot and beat Croatia at the Rio Olympics, they have been far from the world’s elite. However, after missing five editions of the FINA World Championships in a row, they finally managed to qualify for the last tournament in Kazan, and in Budapest they aim at outshining the 14th place they claimed in the Russian city.
The French men’s water polo team has improved a lot in recent years, managed to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games and beat defending champion Croatia in Rio, in addition, the best French clubs have been participants of the Champions League, but the women’s team does not belong to the world’s elite.
At the beginning, in the 80s, the French ladies achieved some notable results. At the 1985 European Championships where the women’s tournament made its debut, they finished in seventh place, but they claimed the bronze medal in the next two editions.
They finished third behind Holland and Hungary in 1987 and 1989 as well, in the latter tournament they beat Italy after extra time in the match for 3rd place.
They had one fourth-place and two fifth-place finishes at the European Championships in the 90s. 2003 and 2006 meant the first two hollow points, when they did not qualify for the Euro, and they missed the event in 2010 and 2012 as well.
They participated, though, at the last European Championships in 2016, and they got through to the quarter final, where they were beaten by Hungary (6-18). In the end they finished seventh, which was actually an acceptable result.
Regarding the FINA World Championships, the French women’s team has qualified four times for the event so far. They finished ninth both in 1991 and 1994. In Perth it meant the very last place of the tournament, in Rome, however, they finished ahead of three other teams.
They grabbed 15th place in 2003, they managed to finish ahead only of Great Britain in Barcelona. They moved one step further in 2015, where they finished 14th ahead of Japan and South Africa.
They have never qualified for the Olympic Games and the World League Super Final either.
At the 17th FINA World Championships France will play in group C in Hajos Alfred Complex. They will not have a real chance for victory against the Netherlands and Hungary, but they could still go through to the playoffs if they beat Japan.
THE FRENCH WOMEN’S TEAM AT THE FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
1991: 9th place
1994: 9th place
2003: 15th place
2015: 14th place