Rugby Sevens’ Olympic qualification pathway for Tokyo 2020 has today been confirmed by the International Olympic Committee and World Rugby.
Twelve teams will compete for medals in both the Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens competitions from July 27 to August 1, 2020 at Tokyo Stadium. The Japan Men’s and Women’s teams have secured automatic qualification as hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, leaving 11 places in each event to be filled through the qualification process.
Just as for Rio 2016, the top four teams in the Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for 2018/19 will confirm their places in Tokyo. This is the first potential route to Olympic qualification for the Ireland Women’s side, who finished sixth at the Sevens Rugby World Cup in July.
An additional six teams will qualify for Tokyo 2020 through the Men’s and Women’s World Rugby regional association Olympic qualification tournaments.
Regional association tournaments will take place in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America from June to December 2019. The top ranked team from each regional tournament will secure qualification. The Ireland Men won the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix Series for the first time earlier this month, while the Ireland Women finished third in the series rankings.
The final opportunity for Olympic qualification will be at the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament. Twelve teams, comprising of the next two highest ranked teams based on 2019 regional qualification rankings from each region, will be invited to participate in these Olympic repechage tournaments.
The repechage will take place at a time between the final regional qualification event and June 2020 with the overall winners of the Men’s and Women’s tournaments claiming the last available places for Tokyo 2020. The two Ireland teams competed in these repechage tournament before Rio 2016, with the men losing at the quarter-final stage to eventual winners Spain, while the girls in green were third place finishers in their event at the UCD Bowl.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby Sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games has had a profound effect on the growth of the sport at all levels. As we enter another Olympic qualifying cycle, teams have everything to play for.
“We are anticipating another thrilling HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and also expect the regional association qualification tournaments to be highly competitive. We look forward to following the fast-paced Sevens action across the season ahead as teams come within touching distance of Tokyo 2020 and securing another chance of Olympic glory.”
Rugby Sevens will again feature in the first week of competition at the 2020 Olympics with matches being played across six days of two sessions per day from July 27 to August 1. In a reverse of the Rio 2016 schedule, the Men’s competition will be played over the first three days, followed by the Women’s over the final three days, with the medals to be determined on the iconic ‘Super Saturday’.
Sevens made an impressive Olympic Games debut at Rio 2016 with Australia’s women claiming the first rugby gold medal since the 1924 Games and Fiji’s men winning their nation’s first ever Olympic medal, with an historic gold that captured hearts around the world.
Following the sport’s successful introduction, recent Nielsen research has estimated that the Sevens fan base grew by more than 30 million as a result, expanding international reach, with emerging markets such as the USA, China, India and Brazil showing substantial growth.
The new season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series begins with the first round of the Women’s Series in Colorado, USA, on October 20-21. The full series calendar can be viewed here.
The Ireland Sevens jerseys are available to buy online here from Elverys Intersport, official sports retailer of the IRFU.