With the 31st Summer Olympic Games in Rio sitting just 15 months away, the first steps of qualification for Rugby Sevens’ debut are underway.
A total of 12 Men’s teams will receive a quota qualification place, including one automatic qualification going to the host country, Brazil. For the remaining 11 spots available, there are several qualification pathways to determine who will be on the plane to South America.
Ahead of the Glasgow Sevens this weekend, we explore the different paths that lie in wait on the Road to Rio.
The first teams to qualify automatically for the Rio Olympics are determined through the 2014/15 HSBC Men’s Sevens World Series. At the conclusion of the World Series in London later this month, the top four ranked teams will qualify directly a quota place to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With two legs of the season remaining - Glasgow and London - the current standings have South Africa leading with 129 points, Fiji second with 125, New Zealand third on 120 points, England in fourth with 100 points and Australia in fifth position with 91 points.
With the Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team currently sitting in fifth spot overall, they would need to overcome the nine point gap between themselves and England in the next two legs to reach the top four ranking required to receive an automatic qualification place for the Olympic Games.
Teams that do not achieve a top four ranking will need to win their respective 2015 World Rugby Regional Association Men’s Sevens Championships to be held between 1 June 2015 and 31 December 2015.
There are six total quota qualification places available, one per region: Africa (CAR), Asia (ARFU), Europe (FIRA-AER), North America and the Caribbean (NACRA), Oceania (FORU) and South America (CONSUR).
The Oceania tournament will be held in Auckland in November.
If Australia is unable to achieve a top four ranking by the end of the World Series, then the team would need to subsequently win the Oceania (FORU) Regional Men’s Sevens Championships to receive a qualification place for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
New Zealand and Fiji from the Oceania region are currently ranked in the top four in the 2015/16 Sevens World Series. If these two teams maintain their positions and qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the conclusion of the World Series, they will not be eligible to participate in the Oceania (FORU) Regional Men’s Sevens Championships.
Should the Australia not qualify through the Regional Tournament but still achieve a top three placing, then they will participate in the Men’s Final Olympic Qualification Tournament for the final place in the Olympic Games.
This tournament will take place between January 2016 and 30 June 2016 (final date confirmation will be made by 30 November 2015).
The best ranked teams from each 2015 Regional Tournament will be invited to participate, 16 in total: Africa (3 teams), Asia (3 teams), Europe (4 teams), North America and the Caribbean (2 teams), Oceania (2 teams), and South America (2 teams). Teams that have already qualified for the Olympic Games will not be eligible to participate in this tournament.
Only the winner of this Final Olympic Qualification Tournament will receive the final qualification place to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Both days of the Glasgow Sevens will be LIVE on FOX SPORTS. Day One will be available via the Red Button on FOX SPORTS 2 from 7.20pm AEST on Saturday 9 May, while Day Two will be broadcast on FOX SPORTS 2 from 7.20pm on Sunday 10 May.