U.S. rugby teams qualify for Rio Olympics
The U.S. men’s and women’s rugby sevens teams qualified for the first Olympic rugby tournaments since 1924 by winning continental qualifying championships in Cary, N.C., on Sunday.
The U.S. men, who finished sixth in this past season’s World Series (with the top four nations earning Olympic spots), beat Canada 21-5 in the North American Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) Sevens Championship game.
The U.S. women, fifth in the World Series, topped Mexico 88-0 in its NACRA title game earlier Sunday. Canada’s women already qualified for the Olympics by finishing second in the World Series.
The NACRA winners joined the top four World Series nations in the 2016 Olympic rugby tournament, plus Olympic host Brazil and the South American continental qualifying winners (Argentina men, Colombia women).
Five more nations each will qualify via other continental qualifiers and global last-chance tournaments.
The U.S. men and women have at least outside shots at medals in Rio de Janeiro, given their places in the World Series standings. Australia, Fiji, Great Britain, New Zealand and South Africa are world powers.
The U.S. won the last two Olympic rugby tournaments in 1920, when there were two nations competing, and 1924, when there were three.
Back then, the Olympic rugby format was 15 players per side, without a separate women’s tournament.