BlitzBoks drawn in tricky Pool for Tokyo
SPOTLIGHT: The Sevens pools have been confirmed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which kick-off at Tokyo Stadium on July 26.
There are some mouth-watering encounters for fans around the globe to look forward to as rugby sevens makes its second appearance at the Olympic Games following an unforgettable debut in Rio.
The competition sees three of the top four placed teams from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games together in Pool B as reigning Olympic champions Fiji will face silver medallists Great Britain and hosts Japan, who finished a very creditable fourth in Rio, along with Olympic debutants Canada who claimed bronze at the last World Rugby Sevens Series event, which took place in Vancouver last year.
Pool A sees a renewal of the mouth-watering antipodean rivalry between current Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Series champions New Zealand and Australia, who met in the final of the last Series event in Vancouver, with the All Blacks Sevens winning a tightly contested match 17-14.
Joining them in Pool A are Argentina, who finished sixth in Rio, alongside Olympic debutants Korea who qualified for Tokyo by winning the Asian qualification tournament with an extra-time ‘golden point’ try to overcome Hong Kong.
South Africa, bronze medallists in Rio, and USA are in Pool C having both achieved direct Olympic qualification by finishing in the top four of the World Rugby Sevens Series 2019, where the USA Eagles finished runners-up after reaching the medal podium in seven of the 10 Series rounds.
Joining them are Kenya, who qualified courtesy of their first Rugby Africa men’s sevens title since 2015, and Olympic debutants Ireland, who secured the final spot thanks to a thrilling 28-19 victory over France in the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco earlier this month.
World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “Monday’s announcement marks a very exciting step on the road to Tokyo with less than a month to go until the players run out in Tokyo Stadium to compete on the Olympic stage.
“These will certainly be unique Olympic Games and we have been working very closely with the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and all other stakeholders towards delivering a safe, secure and highly impactful rugby sevens competition in Tokyo.
“Rugby sevens is a key priority for World Rugby and the inclusion of the sport for the first time in the Games at Rio 2016 had a profound effect, attracting an estimated 30 million new fans globally. With the recent launch of our new ‘This Is How We Sevens’ campaign we are confident millions more fans will engage with the thrilling, fast-paced and action-packed spectacle that is rugby sevens.
“As always, player welfare is at the heart of all our planning and we are confident that as it proved during Rugby World Cup 2019, Tokyo Stadium will be an excellent venue for the teams to inspire the world with their skill, athleticism, determination and the core rugby values of solidarity, integrity and respect.
“With the pools decided, we can now countdown the days and look forward what promises to be another memorable edition of Olympic rugby sevens.”