Wellington Sevens set to ignite Olympic qualification race

by RUGBY.com.au staff

With a third of the 2014/15 series gone, round four in Wellington continues the journey for all the participating teams as the road to Rio heats up.

At the end of the nine rounds this year, the top four teams will automatically qualify for the Olympics, with South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia currently occupying those spots. With the top four impressing in the early stages, there are many sides, and players, waiting in the shadows and looking to challenge.

Argentina are fifth with England, who are qualifying on behalf of Team GB, sixth ahead of Samoa, Scotland, USA, Wales, France, Canada, Portugal, Kenya and Japan.

The make-up and balance of squads is more crucial than ever with Olympic qualifying guaranteed only for the top four this season, and now nearing the halfway stage.

Neil Powell's Blitzboks won the previous two rounds in Dubai and Port Elizabeth and have named the most-experienced side at the Sevens Wellington, while Fiji were victorious in the opening tournament on Australia's Gold Coast. The hosts for this weekend's tournament are also the defending champions and will be hoping to win their first Cup of the season.

"We can't promise a win, but we can promise we'll be going out and giving 200%," said All Blacks Sevens coach Gordon Tietjens.

"We would have liked to have started a bit better this season but we are not far off and a good performance here backed up in Vegas will put us right back in the reckoning. In amongst that we want to be in the top four, that is huge for us, because qualification for the Olympics is very much on the agenda for us."

As well as the 16 captains gathering for the official launch of the Sevens Wellington following the annual street parade in Wellington on the eve of the tournament, the top four captains also posed for the media as interest grows around who will be the first to guarantee their spots.

Brazil, who have already qualified as the hosts of the Rio Olympics, will also be in action in round five of the series in Las Vegas next weekend, where the competition will be streamed live on worldrugby.org, as all rounds are.

Fans of sevens can pre-register for tickets to the sport's debut in the Olympic Games next year to ensure that they receive the latest information about tickets, the competition schedule and alerts for the key dates in the purchase process.

Rio 2016 Ticketing Director Donovan Ferreti said:“Fans will experience this journey like an athlete, preparing and going through stages until the glory of arriving at the Games. With so many attractions, it is necessary to get organised early to ensure you don’t miss the best of the event.”

Broadcast Details:

2014/15 HSBC Men's Sevens World Series from Wellington, New Zealand

Day One on 6 February - broadcast on FOX SPORTS 2 from 9.50am

Australia v Wales, Pool C, 10.42am (AEDT), 6 February

Australia v Portugal, Pool C, 1.36pm (AEDT), 6 February

Australia v Fiji, Pool C, 4.54pm (AEDT), 6 February

Day Two on 7 February - broadcast on FOX SPORTS 2 from 9.50am (AEDT)