A total of 12 countries are due to compete in the Rio 2016 rugby seven’s tournament, which will mark the return of rugby to the Olympic programme for the first time since Paris 1924, when the full 15-a-side game was played, with the United States emerging as the winners.
Whilst the final details of the qualification system are still to be confirmed, the IRB’s head of competition and performance Mark Egan, stated at the recent Hong Kong Seven’s that there will be three stages of the qualification process.
The first is the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Sevens Series, which will be used to qualify four teams from the 2014-2015 series, where the top teams at the end of the series in May 2015 will progress to Rio 2016.
Following that, between June and September of 2015, each of the six IRB regions will have an Olympic qualifications event where there will be one team from each of the six regions that will qualify for the Olympics, bringing up to 10 teams qualified.The final stage of the process will involve a repechage tournament.
Teams that have not qualified through the World Sevens Series, or their region, based on rankings and a quota system from each of the regions will have an opportunity to get a place at Rio 2016.
In that tournament one or two places may be on offer, depending on whether the IRB decide or note to offer host nation Brazil an automatic qualifying place.