First nations qualify for rugby sevens’ Olympic debut
Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa became the first three nations to qualify for the debut of Olympic rugby sevens.
The three nations earned their spots through the Sevens World Series, which stopped in Glasgow, Scotland, over the weekend for the eighth of nine legs this season.
The top four nations in this season’s Sevens World Series earn spots in the first Olympic rugby sevens tournament in Rio de Janeiro next year. Rugby returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1924, but for the first time as a sevens version.
In Glasgow, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa earned enough points to ensure they will finish the season in the top four following the final leg in London this weekend. Brazil received an automatic spot in the Olympic men’s and women’s rugby tournaments as host nation.
Fiji in particular could be an interesting story in Rio. The nation has never won an Olympic medal but leads this season’s World Series and finished in the top three the previous three seasons.
Another famous Fijian, golfer Vijay Singh, could make his Olympic debut at age 53 in Rio with his sport’s return to the Games, and perhaps be golf’s oldest competitor next year.
Another nation will qualify for the Olympic men’s rugby tournament this weekend. It will likely be Great Britain, which is represented by England in the World Series for Olympic qualifying purposes.
The U.S. men, who are sixth in this season’s World Series, hope to earn their spot in the 12-team Olympic rugby tournament by winning a North American and Caribbean nations qualifying tournament in Cary, N.C., in June. If they don’t, they can still get into the Olympics by winning a later last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament.
The U.S. women are tied for fifth with 48 points in their World Series with two legs to go. Like the men, the top four nations in the women’s World Series earn Rio berths. The women’s next leg is in London this weekend.
If the U.S. women fail to finish in the top four in the World Series, they can also earn their spot in the 12-team Olympic rugby tournament by winning a North American and Caribbean nations qualifying tournament in Cary, N.C., in June or a later last-chance Olympic qualifying tournament.