Final teams qualify for Rio 2016

Rugby sevens’ #RoadToRio culminated with the men’s and women’s Olympic Games repechage events, which delivered the final men’s and women’s teams to Rio 2016:

Men's Olympic Qualification

Women's Olympic Qualification

The journey of qualification

Rugby’s road to Rio effectively began on 9 October, 2009 when the International Olympic Committee voted overwhelmingly to add sevens to the programme for the 2016 Games in the Brazilian city.

The actual process of qualification, though, began almost five years to the day later when the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicked off on Australia’s Gold Coast.

With a top-four finish on the men’s and women’s series enough to secure a place at Rio 2016, there was a buzz around the teams as the Olympic dream was now within touching distance.

Host nation Brazil’s men and women qualified automatically for Rio 2016 and outside the series qualifiers it would be down to regional qualifiers to complete the 12-strong field.

In the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Fiji and South Africa became the first to qualify by reaching the Cup quarter-finals in Glasgow in early May 2015 and were joined by New Zealand a day later.

This trio won seven of the nine rounds and it was Tokyo winner England who claimed the fourth place for Great Britain after a strong finish to the series, finishing 12 points ahead of Australia in the final standings.

In the women’s series, New Zealand won the first four events and wrapped up qualification in London, despite seeing a 37-match unbeaten run ended by Spain. Canada and Australia, the others to win tournaments in 2014–15, joined them on the plane to Rio by reaching the Cup quarter-finals a week later in Amsterdam.

The final place went down to the last minute of a winner-takes-all third place play-off between England and USA. England won 15-14 to secure qualification for Great Britain, albeit only on point differential after both sides finished the season with 76 points.

Attention then turned to the regional qualifiers and it was perhaps fitting that South America who provided the first of these in June 2015 when Argentina’s men and Colombia’s women emerged victorious in Santa Fe, the latter upsetting the formbook to beat Argentina in the dying seconds.

The Rugby Americas North event followed a week later and the United States claimed both the men’s and women’s titles after two days of competition in the searing Californian heat.

It was the same scenario in Europe, where France’s men and women both qualified after winning their respective Rugby Europe Grand Prix Series titles, the men having reeled off 18 straight victories to win in Moscow, Lyon and Exeter.

Johannesburg was the venue for both of Africa’s regional qualifiers, albeit nearly two months apart. South Africa’s women won the Rugby Africa Sevens in September but after their National Olympic Committee declined the invitation to play in Rio, the qualification place was accepted by runners-up Kenya. In November, Kenya’s men booked their ticket to Rio 2016, albeit only after Dennis Ombachi’s try with the final play sealed a 21-17 win over Zimbabwe.

Australia’s men, who’d just missed out on a top four spot in the world series, justified their pre-tournament favourites’ tag in the Oceania Rugby Sevens, a 50-0 win over surprise finalists Tonga taking their points tally in six matches to 297 with just one try against them in the debit column. The women’s event also went according to the form book with Fiji putting 55 unanswered points on Samoa in the final in Auckland.

Like USA and France, Japan had double cause for celebration after winning their respective Asian qualifiers. Following on from the men’s 24-12 win over hosts Hong Kong in early November, the Sakura Sevens, as the Japanese women’s team are known, booked their passage to Rio after winning both of the qualification tournaments in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

This left only one place remaining in both the men’s and women’s events. Repechage events took place in Monaco and Dublin respectively where 16 men’s teams and 16 women’s played for their place at Rio 2016:

  • The men’s repechage took place in Monaco on 18-19 June with Spain triumphing over Samoa in a thrilling final.
  • The women’s repechage took place in Dublin on 25-26 June with Spain completing the double for their country, securing their place in Rio with victory over Russia

Additionally, more detailed information can be found below in the IOC's Rio 2016 Final Qualification Process documentation.