The USA Women recently held a training camp in France in preparation for this spring’s North American and Caribbean Championships. The camp as based in Poiters, France where USA Women’s coach, Christian Latulippe coaches Grand Poiters 86 men’s team. The attendees were a mix of veterans, newcomers, U.S. based players and European based players.
According to various social media and news reports the squad played four matches against club teams.
24 January; USA 32, Grand Poiters 86, 21 (Grand Poiters 86 has an 8-1-0 record and is the 1st place team in Pool 2 of N3F)
26 January; USA 28, Moncoutant 29 (Moncoutant has a 5-3-1 record and is 4th place in Pool 2 of N2F)
27 January; USA 19, HBC Celle-sur-Belles 39 (Cell-sur-Belle has a 0-9-1 record and is in last place in the LFH, France’s top pro league)
28 January; USA 20, Stella St Maur 32 (Stella St Maur has a 1-8-0 record and is in last place in D2F)
Short Tutorial on the French Club System Hierarchy
For some context on the level of competition Team USA faced here’s a short tutorial on the somewhat confusing French Club system hierarchy. There are five nationwide levels of competition
- Ligue Feminine de Handball (LFH): France’s top professional league consisting of 11 clubs
- Pro 2: France’s 2nd professional league consisting of 12 clubs
- NF1: 36 clubs playing in 3 pools
- NF2: 48 clubs playing in 4 pools
- NF3: 96 clubs playing in 8 pools
French Club Standings: Link
Clubs move up and down this hierarchical pyramid each season using a standard European promotion/relegation system. In principle, this means that most of the clubs at each level are superior to the clubs below them.
Commentary: One shouldn’t read too much into these lackluster results. The USA women haven’t had any significant competition since the 2015 Pan American Championships and the majority of their players are no longer based in Auburn, so they haven’t even practiced/scrimmaged together in a long time. The level of competition at NORCA is also probably significantly lower than the 2 pro teams that they faced. That being said securing 1 of the 3 spots for this summer’s Pan American Championships won’t be a walk in the park. Hosts Puerto Rico, Mexico, Greenland and the Dominican Republic all field sides that have a realistic chance of competing for the title.