South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand have qualified for the men’s rugby sevens competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With the top four in the HSBC Sevens World Series table securing passage to Rio 2016, the trio made safe their top four status courtesy of their results at the penultimate Series round in Glasgow.
South Africa and Fiji were the first to make history with their Glasgow Cup quarter-final qualification on day one making it mathematically impossible to be overhauled in the top four places in the Series standings.
New Zealand’s Olympic status was confirmed on Sunday morning after Australia failed to make the Cup semi-final with defeat to USA, ahead of the New Zealand’s quarter-final with hosts Scotland. The trio join Brazil (automatic qualifier as host) to represent rugby on sport’s greatest stage for the first time in 92 years.
Focus now turns to the final round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in London where the Series champions will be crowned and the final qualification place confirmed. England currently occupy fourth spot and are 16 points ahead of fifth-placed Australia. Should the hosts make the Cup quarter-finals, or if Australia fail to reach the last eight, the hosts will confirm Team GB’s qualification.
The London event, which will also showcase two matches from the penultimate round of the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, the third place play-off and final at Twickenham, could also see the first women’s teams to qualify.
“The World Series was important but qualification for the Olympics was the goal,” said New Zealand coach Sir Gordon Tietjens. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to finish in that top four so to know we’re there is really pleasing and you can start seeing yourself going to Rio now.”
South Africa’s Frankie Horne said: “It’s a big moment for us and we are very privileged to have made it this far. We have worked hard this season to qualify and it’s an historical event for the game of sevens to be in the Olympics. We thoroughly deserve it but it’s a great privilege and a great honour for us to be there and represent the game of sevens”
Fiji captain Osea Kolinisau added: “We have made it to Rio. It has been a long road and there are plenty of top teams in the Series but we have worked hard towards it. The boys are very proud of making it to Rio and it means a lot to Fiji as a whole because it is the first time a team will go to the Olympics with a chance of a medal. It is a dream come true to be an Olympian.”
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This is an exciting and major milestone as we countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and I would like to congratulate South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand for achieving the dream of representing rugby on sport’s greatest stage.
“We now look forward to the men’s and women’s tournaments in London next weekend when we will see further teams book their tickets to Rio 2016.”