Host City: MontrÃ©al, Canada
Venue(s): Claude Robillard Centre, MontrÃ©al, QuÃ©bec; MontrÃ©al Forum, MontrÃ©al, QuÃ©bec; Palace of Sports, Sherbrooke, QuÃ©bec; Pavillon de l'Ãducation Physique et des Sports de l'UniversitÃ© Laval, QuÃ©bec, QuÃ©bec
Date Started: July 18, 1976
Date Finished: July 28, 1976
Format: Round-robin pools advance teams to classification matches.
Unlike at the 1972 Games, only the reigning World Champion (Romania) qualified directly. Still, most other top nations from the 1974 Worlds managed to qualify for the Games. The only notable team missing out was East Germany, which had lost the 1974 final against the Romanians. They were ousted by West Germany (only 9th at the Worlds) on goal difference.
The tournament rules put a strong emphasis on the pool stage of the competition: only the winners of each pool advanced to the next round, with no elimination rounds. In the first pool, three teams finished equal on points: USSR, West Germany and Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia had defeated the Soviets (20-18), but lost to the West Germans (18-17), who in turn had lost to the USSR (18-16). Yugoslavia's loss in the final group match came as a surprise to the reigning Olympic champions, but they played without focus and shot poorly - missing the Olympic final by just one goal. This put the matter down to goal difference. That meant the advantage went to the Soviet Union, which had demolished Canada 25-9 and Japan 26-16, while the other teams had scored more modest victories against these teams. In the other pool, Romania was clearly standing out, winning three matches while drawing one (the Match against Tunisia was cancelled as they withdrew due to the African boycott).
The Romanians were clear favorites to win the final, being the four time World Champions, while the Soviets' best performance had been a fourth place in 1967. But the Soviet squad managed to eliminate playmaker [Cristian GaÅ£u] very well, while limiting [Åtefan Birtalan], who had averaged almost six goals a game to )only) three scores. After 20 minutes, it was 8-3, already, which translated to a half-time score of 10-6. The second half was more evenly matched, but the final result was never much in doubt: 19-15. The bronze was contested by West Germany and Poland. The Poles won by virtue of their leading goalscorer [Jerzy Klempel], who would have been the tournament top scorer, had his 15 goals against Tunisia not been stricken from the record after that nation's withdrawal.