Exclusive: UK Home Nations can qualify a British rugby sevens team for Rio 2016

Friday, 25 May 2012
By Tom Degun at the Sport Accord Convention in Québec City

england rugby_training_session_25-05-12May 25 - England, Scotland and Wales will all have the ability to qualify a Great Britain rugby sevens team for the Rio 2016 Olympics, combining to create one team for the Games.

The provisional plan to qualify for the Olympic sevens rugby tournament sees the four top teams qualify for Rio 2016 directly from the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series.

England, Scotland and Wales are set to compete in the event as individual countries in both the men's and women's event and as long as one of them finishes in the top four, Britain will qualify for the Olympics.

Should all three miss out on a top four ranking, they will then attempt to qualify through a regional qualifying tournament and subsequently a special Olympic qualification tournament.

If one of the three qualifies for the event, Britain would then be likely to form one team for the Olympics, but it would be up to each nation and the British Olympic Association (BOA) to decide how it is set up.

Bernard Lapasset_25-05-12
In theory, it could mean that England could qualify Britain for the Games, but the team be made up of largely of Scottish players although International Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Bernard Lapasset (pictured above) believes that it is the fairest solution.

"There is a proposal on the table to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about the Olympic qualification that will be put in place for the UK," Lapasset told insidethegames.

"Nothing has yet been confirmed but we believe that the proposal will soon be confirmed.

"We need to be fair to each region and this appears to be the fairest way while it also respects the protocol on the Olympic Charter."

Rio 2016 will see rugby sevens appear at the Games for the first time since the Paris 1924 Olympics after the IOC voted to re-admit the sport at their Session in Copenhagen in 2009.

Lapasset, who spearheaded the successful Olympic campaign, feels that the move has already had a major global impact on the game.

"Not only has the popularity of rugby sevens further accelerated since the IOC's decision, we are witnessing significant developments in key new markets such as China and Russia," he said.

"We are committed to ensuring that all our unions have access to a development and tournament pathway that optimises the effects of Olympic Games inclusion.

"We are encouraging our National Unions to actively collaborate with their Governments and National Olympic Committees to develop strategies to foster the inclusion of rugby in school curriculums as well as secure better funding for development programmes.

"We firmly believe that there are meaningful opportunities ahead and we have already witnessed positive results since October 2009 such as in Russia, where rugby programmes are being developed within schools and across the country.

"We have been very warmly welcomed by members of the Olympic Family who have clearly indicated to us that they envision our contribution to the Olympic Movement in many areas beyond the Games alone.

"We are meeting with the IOC regularly and we enjoy providing them with details of our progress as we continue to build towards 2016."

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