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By ARU Media Unit
The qualification process for Australia’s path to Olympic glory has been confirmed overnight by the IOC, with both the Qantas Men’s and Women’s teams needing to secure a top four berth in their respective 2014/15 Sevens World Series.
The International Rugby Board announced the qualification process following ratification by the International Olympic Committee, which will feature a blend of the existing men’s and women’s Series structures, regional competitions and a world play-off.
Under the qualification structure for the men’s competition, four nations will qualify from the 2014/15 Sevens World Series, one nation from each of the six IRB regional competitions, one from the world play-off and automatic qualification for Brazil.
The women will follow a similar format with four teams confirmed via the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, six from the regional competitions, the world play-off winner and automatic qualification for Brazil.
The decision means Australia’s Road to Rio will be:
- Automatic qualification for Rio 2016: Top four finish in 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series
- Second qualification opportunity: Teams in the Oceania region that finish outside of the top four of the 2014/15 HSBC World Series will compete in a regional tournament, with the winning side qualifying for Rio 2016
- The remaining teams that have not either finished in the top four of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series and were unsuccessful in the Oceania region tournament will compete in a final World Olympic Qualifying tournament. The winning team qualifying for Rio 2016
- Automatic qualification for Rio 2016: Top four finish in 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series
- Second qualification opportunity: Teams in the Oceania region that finish outside of the top four of the 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series will compete in a regional tournament, with the winning side qualifying for Rio 2016
- The remaining teams that have not either finished in the top four of the 2014/15 IRB Women Sevens World Series and were unsuccessful in the Oceania region tournament will compete in a final World Olympic qualifying tournament. The winning team qualifying for Rio 2016
The IRB also revealed that the Brazil men’s and women’s team will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics Rugby Sevens events as host nation.
The decision to automatically qualify the host nation in both the 12-team men’s and women’s competitions underscores the growing strength of Rugby in Brazil and the IRB’s commitment to further drive growth of the sport across a nation where Rugby participation has grown by more than 25 per cent since 2011.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "The decision to include Brazil is good for Rugby, good for Brazil and good for the Games. Rugby in Brazil is experiencing rapid growth and inclusion will generate further impetus and excitement, while giving the Brazilian Rugby family and sports fans across the nation something really special to look forward to at their home Olympic Games."
"We are excited and honoured for Rugby Sevens to be making its Olympic Games debut in Rio and believe that the Games will be great for Rugby and Rugby will be great for the Games. We are working in partnership with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and the IOC to deliver a Rugby Sevens event that delivers outstanding competition, showcases our most skilful players, delivers a very special vibrant atmosphere and engages new and young audiences around the world."
Rio 2016 Organising Committee President Carlos Nuzman said: “We are delighted that the IRB has taken this decision which will not only increase excitement for Rugby's return to the Olympic Games in Rio but also help create further positive momentum for the sport of Rugby in Brazil."
Mr Lapasset added: "We are delighted to be announcing a truly global qualification structure that presents the opportunity for all our Member Unions to participate, ensures at least one team from each IRB region qualifies and delivers the best teams and players to ensure Rugby Sevens contributes significantly to the success of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games."
"This structure comes with the full support of our national Member Unions, who are excited at the prospect of competing on the world’s greatest sporting stage and showcasing Rugby Sevens to new audiences in Brazil and around the world."
The Qantas Men’s Sevens team return to action this weekend in the Wellington Sevens, while the Qantas Women’s Sevens have back-to-back tournaments in Atlanta, USA before heading to South America to play in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Women’s Sevens side lead the Series on 20 points, with New Zealand currently in second place with 18 points.