Argentina will represent South America at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after beating Brazil 26-0 in the final of the men's regional qualifying tournament in Santiago, Chile.
Los Pumas Sevens will join Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa, the four teams to book their places through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, and host nation Japan in the 12-team field in Tokyo.
With six players in their 12-man squad having played in Rio four years ago where they finished sixth, this will be Argentina's second Olympic Games. They will join Brazil’s women in representing South America after they won the regional qualifier in Peru last month.
Brazil and third-ranked Chile will represent the region in the global repechage tournament to be played next year, while Brazil also claimed the eighth and final slot for the Pan American Games to be played in Lima later this month.
Argentina, coached by sevens legend Santiago Gómez Cora, were too strong for their six opponents over two days of differing climate – the first with rain, the second under the sun in wintery Chicureo, in the outskirts of Santiago. In all, Argentina scored 39 tries and only Paraguay in pool play scored against them.
In the semi-finals they beat Chile 35-0, the hosts having failed to top their pool after losing to Brazil, the surprise team in the tournament on the opening day.
It was the Brazilians who kept Argentina to their lowest score in the final, and that was a four-try 26-0 win.
“Qualifying to the Olympic Games was the big goal we came to Chile for and we are delighted to have achieved it," said Gómez Cora. “We knew it wouldn't be easy; fortunately the region is growing which forces us to raise the bar and work harder.”
Brazil, who had five veterans of Rio 2016 and an entire squad that was involved in test matches against Spain and Romania in June, reached the final after beating Chile 14-0 in pool play and then Paraguay 14-12 in the semi-final.
With Os Tupis leading 14-5, captain Felipe Sancery was sent off at the end of the first half. Paraguay, who were surprise semi-finalists, sensed their opportunity and came within two points of a place in the final and at Lima 2019.
Instead, both went to the more experienced Brazilian side after their 14-12 win. Brazil will join Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in the rugby sevens competition at the Pan American Games, which takes place from 26-28 July.
Chile bounced back from their semi-final defeat to best Paraguay 43-0 in the third place play-off to keep alive their Tokyo 2020 dreams with a place in the repechage.
The next men's qualifier for Tokyo 2020 will be from Rugby Americas North region, with their regional qualifier taking place in the Cayman Islands on 6-7 July.
Photo: Sergio Maureira