The France team faces Hungary on Wednesday in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Egypt.


Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP / POOL

  • Barjots, strong, experts ... Since 1995, each generation of players in the French team is entitled to its little nickname.

  • But with the retirements of Thierry Omeyer and Daniel Narcisse, the nickname of Experts no longer has much reason to exist.

  • With a new coach and a group reshaped since the last Euro, the Blues will have to build a new reputation.

    And find a new nickname.

"The Experts are back" ... The creations of TMC did not break much of the soup tureen at the hour of the floor on the presentation trailer of the quarter-final between the France team and Hungary.

In their defense, still talking about Experts in 2021 to evoke the Blues is a very convenient thing to attract the attention of onlookers in front of his TV, between two valves of Yann Barthès and a commercial against the Covid.

It recalls a not so distant time when France, greedy and not sharing for a penny, scooped up almost everything that was done international trophies in the discipline.

"It allows the general public to immediately identify what we are talking about, readily conceives the former coach Daniel Costantini.

I see, with my old age, when I try to explain what I did in the world of handball to someone who is not a regular follower, and that I speak of the Barjots [the first generation French victorious to have launched the fashion for nicknames], he immediately sees what we are talking about.


But this "nickname", says Guillaume Gille at a press conference on Wednesday, is there still room for

a French team arrived in Egypt with the scars of a historic rouste received during the last Euro?

Make way for a new generation of players

It's not Hitchcock who wants, we are not going to make the suspense last any longer.

Especially since this question, all our interlocutors all answered in the negative.

Starting with coach Guillaume Gille: “The facts are there, there are very few Experts left in this group [Guigou, Abalo mainly, Nikola Karabatic being injured for this World Cup].

Today, Experts, this team has only the history and the last witnesses who are the old ones who today continue to support and to be the executives of this team.

Today, this group needs to find its own path to performance in order to write its first beautiful pages in this kind of competition.


For Valentin Porte, the Blues of 2021 have "moved on".

"I'm not going to say that CSI doesn't exist anymore, that would make a bit of a strong title for you to use, but let's just say it's a thing of the past.

“Less embarrassed by what one could call it, Philippe Bana calls a spade, a spade.

"Experts, it's dead", loose the president of the French Federation of hand.

“But that's normal,” he continues.

I don't know any team in the world that would come out of such a bloodletting as we suffered with the departures of Daniel Narcisse or Thierry Omeyer - not to mention the absence of Niko Karabatic - simply by snapping their fingers.

Yes, we must admit that the France team is no longer the same, it is quite another, with kids arriving but also with new guys from thirty brooms who discover the Blues.

With also perhaps a more collective idea than that of just magnifying the individual talent of exceptional athletes, as we have had in the past.


When the Costauds succeeded the Barjots

For Valentin Porte, this appellation story is nothing more or less than a journalist's trick.

"This is it for you," he said.

Honestly I think this team weren't too interested in nicknames when they won everything.

It doesn't interest us any more today.

»Something journalist?

Yes and no.

If it is indisputable that the first nickname of "Barjots", taken out of the hat by Philippe Gardent during an interview after the first title of world champion in 1995, was popularized thanks to the newspaper


, that of Experts in revenge is absolutely not the product of a scrapbooking creation.

We rewind: In 2008, on the eve of the departure for the Beijing Olympics, the handball federation decided to surf on the success of its pennant team and then called on the communications firm Carat Sport to find a new-look nickname.

As at the time the fashion was for the detective series of the same name, they did not look any further: it will be the Experts.

“We bounced back in a timely manner on the series but, above all, it characterized them perfectly.

They are rigorous, disciplined, hardworking.

It was also in opposition to the Barjots, more inconstant and unruly, ”explained Carat Sport Managing Director Olivier Bischoff a few years ago.

"It is up to them today to build their own history"

If Valentin Porte does not care about this label, this was not necessarily the case with previous generations.

At the time, Jérôme Fernandez remembers that the glorious past of the Barjots was not easy to grasp for the new batch of players who arrived in blue with him: “During the first competitions we did, we were sometimes a not annoyed by the fact that it only spoke of the Barjots who won, of a team full of talent, etc.

We were in search of identity and it's true that when we were nicknamed the Strongmen, we said to ourselves "here it is, now it's us, it's our story, we will be able to begin to exist".

It was from that moment that we began to feel that we had finally become a full-fledged French team.


“It is up to them today to build their own history and to find another name or to ensure that, through their results, the press or supporters find one for them.

Because it will necessarily go through the construction of a track record.

“All in good time, calm Daniel Costantini.

If she succeeds in winning in Egypt, that she is reborn in the eyes of the French during this World Cup, maybe we can find something related to ancient Egypt for example.

“For his part, Philippe Bana, who also willingly took the game, leans more for a nickname in connection with the new style of the France team.

Less bling-bling but more hard-working.

“They are real builders, he tries himself.

There is something in their state of mind that brings them closer to the builders.

Stone after stone, they're putting together something.

It is a site under reconstruction since January, there we begin to see the plans of the house, even the foundations.

We haven't got on the roof yet, we haven't done the finishing touches, we haven't won anything, but it's a start.

"While waiting to see if the Blues win a charm on Sunday in Egypt, and to stay in the tradition of TV programs, why not go to" The constructors of the extreme "or" The Kings of the renovation "?

“We are in the process of rebuilding something but without a nickname, with humility”, corrects Valentin Porte.

Go for "Anonymous" then.


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