By suffering a defeat to Belgium in their first match in the 2017 EuroVolley in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Szczecin, Katowice, and Kraków (Poland), France became only the eighth reigning champions of the Old Continent to succumb to the pressure of defending the gold medal.
The 1955 winners (in Bucharest, Romania) Czechoslovakia lost to Hungary 3-2 (15-17, 15-8, 15-10, 9-15, 16-14) at the home soil in Prague, in the 1958 tournament. Eventually, they grabbed the title but then fell to Poland 3-2 (11-15, 15-11, 7-15, 15-8, 15-10) in the opening match in Bucharest, Romania, in 1963.
The Romanian NT, who surprisingly grabbed the gold medal in 1963, lost to Soviet Union 3-1 (15-6, 15-8, 5-15, 15-7) in the opening of the next Continental Championship that was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1967.
Another fail of the title holders in the EuroVolley opening occurred 22 years after the Istanbul tournament when the 1987 winners (in Oudergem and Gent, Belgium), the Soviet Union, suffered a defeat to The Netherlands 3-0 (15-11, 15-8, 15-7). The tournament took place in Örebro and Stockholm, Sweden, in 1989.
Italy, who won the gold medal at the above-mentioned European Champs, fell to Soviet Union 3-0 (15-11, 18-16, 15-9) in the next tournament, in Hamburg and Berlin, Germany, in 1991.
The 1997 European Championship title holders The Netherlands, who achieved a success in front of own crowd in Den Bosch and Eindhoven, lost to France 3-0 (26-24, 27-25, 30-28) in Austria (Wiener Neustadt and Vienna), in 1999.
And finally, the last gold medalists before France who suffered a defeat in the opening match of the European Championship were Serbia. They failed against Slovenia 3-1 (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-19) in the 2013 tournament that was held in Denmark and Poland (Odense, Herning, Aarhus, Copenhagen – Gdańsk, Gdynia). Thus, the Serbian NT questioned the title which they won in Vienna, Innsbruck (Austria) and Karlovy Vary, Prague (Czech Republic), in 2011.
An interesting, but also the worrying fact for the fans of the French NT is that only one of the title holders that lost the opening match managed to defend the title – Czechoslovakia in 1958!