What is the World Rugby Sevens Repechage?
The repechage tournament is a one-off event to determine the final qualifiers for the men’s and women’s rugby sevens competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were delayed until 2021.
The 24 best-placed teams – 12 men’s and 12 women’s – that failed to secure qualification through the regional qualification process are involved in what promises to be a fascinating weekend of do-or-die rugby sevens.
How will it work?
Both men’s and women’s sides will compete in a 12-team round robin format that will see three pools of four teams compete. Teams that progress from the pools will enter the knockout rounds, journeying from quarter-finals to final.
The final two teams in the women’s tournament and the final winner of the men’s will all qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Where is it?
Stade Louis II, Monaco. The men’s repechage tournament for Rio 2016, won by Spain, was also held there, while the women’s tournament has switched to the Principality having previously been staged in Dublin.
When is it?
19-20 June, 2021.
What’s at stake?
The chance to be involved in the biggest sporting event in years: the Tokyo Olympics. One men’s team and two women’s teams will get the golden tickets to Tokyo and join the 21 teams who’ve already booked their place there.
So, high drama then?
You bet! Spain’s men qualified for Rio 2016 with a try in the last few seconds in the final against Samoa. Knowing the prize at stake, it was joy for some and dejection for others.
Spain’s women completed the double in Dublin the following weekend thanks to victory over Russia.
The women’s competition will feature Argentina, Colombia, France, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Samoa and Tunisia.
The men’s tournament will involve Brazil, Chile, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, Samoa, Tonga, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Four years is a long time in sport and Spain were too far off the pace to qualify through the world series. That left them needing to qualify via the Rugby Europe Olympic qualification tournament, but they narrowly missed out in the men’s and women’s competitions, ensuring there will be a new winner of both repechages.
Which nations have already qualified for Tokyo 2020?
In the men’s competition, Fiji, USA, New Zealand and South Africa via the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and Japan, as hosts, and Great Britain, Korea, Australia, Kenya, Argentina and Canada via the regional qualifiers.
For the women’s, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia through the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and Japan, as hosts, plus reginal qualifiers Great Britain, China, Fiji, Kenya and Brazil.
Who are the favourites in the women’s tournament?
With a fourth-place finish on the truncated World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 and local support behind them, France will be disappointed if they don’t take one of the two places available in the women’s event.
Having experienced the joy of Rio 2016, Colombia will be equally determined to make it to a second Olympics and could challenge series regulars France and Russia.
Who are the favourites in the men’s tournament?
Again, France will be among the frontrunners to win the tournament and qualify for Tokyo 2020. Fiji’s gold medal-winning coach, Ben Ryan, has been working with the French team as a consultant and will have them revved up and ready to go.
Ireland could push them all the way, though. They have rapidly risen up through the ranks and qualified for the world series as a core team in 2019. Olympic qualification would be another step in a remarkable journey for Anthony Eddy’s side.
Outside of Europe, Samoa will be eager to banish the disappointment of 2016, while Jamaica’s Crocs will hope to catch the eye against the top teams.