New format, same goal: How Australia can qualify for Olympics as Sevens test revamped competition in London

Wed, May 17, 2023, 10:59 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Sevens' Olympic hopes all come down to a weekend in London. Photo: World Rugby
The Sevens' Olympic hopes all come down to a weekend in London. Photo: World Rugby

Australia will be looking to wrap up Olympics qualification as the World Series looks to the future for the final event of the 2022-23 Series in London

John Manenti’s side have never qualified in one of the four automatic slots given to the highest finishers from the World Series the year prior to the Games.

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They finished fifth in 2014-15 and seventh in 2018-19, forced to go through the rigorous Oceania Sevens to secure their place.

The Aussies cruised through the tournament in 2015 to book their spot in the Olympics, only conceding a singular try over the weekend whilst they were tested by Samoa in 2019 before locking up their place at the Tokyo Games.

However, the competition across Oceania continues to grow and a poor result in London could likely see them facing off against Samoa and Tonga.

They would still have a chance to qualify in the final qualification tournament but in terms of ideal preparation, a strong performance in London is imperative.

So what do they need to do to qualify and how is this tournament different to previous? Rugby.com.au explains

How can Australia qualify for the Olympics?

Essentially fifth place is the golden spot for the Australians.

The Aussies currently hold onto fifth on the World Series ladder with one event remaining, holding a nine-point advantage over Samoa and South Africa.

Whilst usually, that wouldn’t be enough to qualify, the rise of France (third) has opened up an extra qualifying spot, with their place at the Paris Games already confirmed.

It puts John Manenti’s side in a prime position, with their spot secured if they manage to (ironically) finish fifth in London.

Any lower and then fate falls out of their hands, needing Samoa and South Africa to finish no more than four spots ahead of them on the ladder.

How does London differ from the rest of the World Series?

London will give a glimpse into the future of the Men’s World Series as the teams prepare to reduce to 12.

The top 11 core teams (on the World Series ladder) and Japan, who have already been relegated for 2023-24, will fill three pools of four, following the same structure as the Women’s competition.

The top two teams and the two highest third-place finishes will qualify for the quarters, with the format for the knockouts as followed:

1st Pool B v Best 3rd place finish

1st Pool C v 2nd Pool A

2nd Pool B v 2nd Pool C

1st Pool A v 2nd Best 3rd

As for the other core teams on the circuit, they will play in a separate mini-tournament in London to decide the final team on the World Series for 2023-24.

This includes Uruguay, Kenya, Canada and Tonga, who won the Challenger Series to qualify.

What does Australia’s Pool look like?

Australia will fancy its chance in Pool C alongside France, Samoa and Spain.

France has proved a kryptonite of sorts for the Aussies, beating them in Vancouver and Sydney in 2023.

It’s been a different story with Spain, with the Australians taking out their last five encounters.

Fittingly, it boils down to Samoa where their Olympic hopes will likely be won or lost.

The Aussies will enter the contest with confidence after last week’s 26-5 win in Toulouse, whilst Samoa had taken the contest before that 15-12 in Hong Kong.

Australia could see rivals South Africa in the quarter-finals, facing Series winners New Zealand, Great Britain and USA as part of Pool A whilst Argentina, Ireland, Fiji and Japan complete Pool B.

Australia Fixtures for London Sevens

Saturday, May 20

Australia Men v Spain Men, 6:39 pm 

Australia Men v Samoa Men, 9:47 pm

Sunday May 21

Australia Men v France Men, 1:30 am

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