With global excitement building ahead of rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016, World Rugby has announced the location and dates for the regional qualification tournaments that will deliver six men’s and six women’s teams to the Games.
The top four teams in the respective men’s and women’s World Rugby Sevens Series standings are set to secure their places in the coming weeks. Brazil has been granted automatic qualification for both men and women by World Rugby as the host nation for the Games. Attention now turns to the race to secure a coveted place via the regional qualifiers.
A men’s and a women’s team will qualify from each of the six regional Olympic qualification tournaments, that will take place between June and November 2015.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This exciting announcement marks another significant milestone as the global rugby family counts down to rugby sevens’ Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016 when we will see rugby’s first Olympians in more than 92 years competing on sport’s greatest stage.”
“With rugby sevens enjoying unprecedented global profile and growth and the men’s and women’s Sevens World Series set to go down to the wire in this, the most compelling of rugby sevens’ years, I am sure that the regional Olympic qualifiers will be extremely competitive, underscoring the tremendous depth of competition around the globe.”
Fittingly, with the Games taking place in Rio, it is South America who will provide the first regional qualifiers with the men’s and women’s tournaments taking place in Santa Fe, Argentina, on 5-7 June.
The men’s and women’s North America and the Caribbean qualification tournament will follow in Cary, North Carolina, USA, on 13-14 June, while Europe’s women representatives will be confirmed in Brive, France, on 20-21 June with the men confirmed in Exeter, England, on 11-12 July. The women’s qualifier from Africa will be confirmed at the African women’s qualification tournament which will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa on 26-27 September.
Qualification will take a break during Rugby World Cup 2015 before resuming with the Asia men’s qualifier in Hong Kong on 7-8 November. On the following weekend, 14-15 November, the Oceania men’s and women’s qualifier will be held in Auckland, New Zealand and the African men’s qualifier will take place in Johannesburg.
Asia will deliver the final women’s regional qualifier to book their place at Rio 2016 at the conclusion of the Tokyo Women’s Sevens tournament on 28-29 November. The 12th and final place in both the men’s and women’s Olympic Games rugby sevens competitions will be determined via a World Rugby final repechage tournament which will take place before the end of June 2016 (date and location to be confirmed by 31 December, 2015).
With anticipation building across the rugby community, the global qualification process well underway and rugby sevens continuing to excite, engage and inspire new participants and audiences around the world, initial demand for tickets has been high for the six days of rugby sevens at Rio 2016.
Lapasset added: “Rugby sevens, with its winning blend of high-octane action, close competition and entertainment, is proving a hit with young audiences, broadcasters and commercial partners around the world. This is why we believe that Rio will love sevens and we look forward to hosting fans in an exceptional arena at the very heart of the Deodoro complex where fans will experience the dynamic athleticism of our rugby sevens Olympians in a unique festival atmosphere.”
Agberto Guimarães, Rio 2016 Executive Director of Sport and Paralympic Integration, said: “The regional qualifying tournaments represent another important step for rugby sevens on the journey to making the sport´s Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games. With 15 months to go the organising committee is working hard every day to ensure everything is in place to deliver an excellent competition in a vibrant venue in the Deodoro zone. The teams that qualify will have the opportunity to showcase the skill and excitement of rugby sevens in front of a passionate Brazilian atmosphere.”