The Olympic Games in 2016 may seem in the distant future but rugby 7s teams are turning their focus to Rio. And the battle to qualify starts in October with the 1st stop on the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series Tour.
“We’re building our foundation,” USA’s Zack Test said at the conclusion of this season’s tour. “We’ve got lots of new boys for next season to help us qualify for the  Olympics. Rugby is the fastest-growing sport in the States and to have the Olympics as an incentive will mean the sport will really take off.”
The top 4 teams for next season’s tour will automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
What does this mean for the USA? The Eagles have a lot of work to do. They ended next season’s campaign in 13th place on 41 points well behind winner New Zealand with 180 points. The All Blacks were followed by South Africa (152), Fiji (144), and England (134).
HSBC Sevens World Series 2014/15
Round 1 – Oct 11-12, 2014
Australia (Gold Coast)
Round 2 – Dec5-6, 2014
Round 3 – Dec 13-14, 2014
South Africa (Port Elizabeth)
Round 4 – Feb 6-7, 2015
New Zealand (Wellington)
Round 5 – Feb 13-15, 2015
USA (Las Vegas)
Round 6 – Mar 27-29, 2015
Round 7 – Apr 4-5, 2015
Round 8 – May 9-10, 2015
Round 9 – May 16-17, 2015
“With the World Series now confirmed as a key part of Olympic qualifying for Rio 2016, we are delighted to have nine such strong tournaments showcasing these world class athletes and the strength of global Sevens competition,” IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said.
In addition to the top 4 finishers, each of the 6 rugby international regions will host a qualifying tournament with the winner advancing to Brazil. The race to finish on top of the North America Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) qualification tournament should come down to the US and Canada.
Canada finished last season’s HSBC 7s series in 6th place, 49 points ahead of the U.S.
The U.S. has more pressure than other nations as the current 2-time Olympic gold medalist. Rugby was last part of the Olympics back in 1924. The 15’s game was played and the U.S. won the gold in 1920 and 1924.
What does the U.S. need to do to qualify for the 2016 Olympics? What is the upside for the game in the U.S. by qualifying? And what are the consequences of not qualifying?