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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 27 March, 2019
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Olympic pathway confirmed for Irish 7s rugby hopefuls

A European tournament or World Rugby repechage will serve as Ireland’s best chance of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.

THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC committee today confirmed the qualification process for Sevens rugby ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Sevens made its Olympic debut at Rio 2016 with Fiji’s men claiming gold as their nation’s first ever Olympic medal while Australia took the women’s title.

Ro Dakuwaqa celebrates with his gold medal Ro Dakuwaqa gets his teeth into his gold medal. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Neither Ireland’s men or women’s side qualified for Rio, but four years further down the line the ever-increasing quality of both outfits raises the hope that will change.

Twelve men and women’s teams will qualify for the 2020 Olympic tournament with automatic qualification awarded to hosts Japan.

The first four qualifiers will come from the 2019 World Series.

Ireland women have competed in this tournament for the past three seasons, finishing 12th, 9th and 10th. Ireland men, though impressive as an invitational team at World Series events, are still chasing qualification for the World Series as a core team.

Ireland’s Lucy Mulhall Lucy Mulhall in action against New Zealand at the Sevens World Cup this summer. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

One more team from each of Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Oceania can earn Olympic qualification through a regional qualification tournament. These tournaments will take place in the second half of 2019 and when all six are played, 11 teams will have secured passage to Tokyo.

The final spot available will be up for grabs in the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament which will see 12 teams (the second and third-place finishers from the six regional tournaments) compete before June 2020.

Jordan Conroy runs in a try Jordan Conroy scorches home in the quarter-final of the London Sevens this year. Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

“Rugby sevens’ inclusion in the Olympic Games has had a profound effect on the growth of the sport at all levels,” says World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont.

“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 rugby sevens action across the season ahead as teams come within touching distance of Tokyo 2020 and securing another chance of Olympic glory.”

Sevens will be played across the first week of the Olympic Games, from 27 July to 1 August.

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Sean Farrell

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