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There’s just one tournament left in the 2015/2016 7s World Series, and the first chapter of the Olympic qualification story is almost entirely unfolded. Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa officially clinched their bids to the Rio Games.
The fourth spot on offer via the World Series is still technically up for grabs, with England having a stranglehold only Australia has a chance to undo. England clings to a 117-101 lead in the standings going into the final Series stop in London next week, which is essentially insurmountable.
Even if Australia was to win the whole enchilada next week, England would have to bow out in the Bowl Semifinals, or worse, to be surpassed. If Australia finished second, England would have to lose in the Shield final or sooner. To put it plainly, England would have to have its worst showing of the season and Australia its best.
For the Eagles' part, it would take a pretty big collapse and a great performance by Scotland or Argentina for them to finish worse than sixth – by far their best season ranking in team history.
So, for all intents and purposes, the nations who are in the big dance so far are Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and Great Britain, as well as host nation Brazil. That leaves the following teams to be favored in the regional qualifiers.
Europe – France
North America – United States, Canada
South America – Argentina
Africa – Kenya
Asia – Japan
Oceania – Australia, Samoa
Coming out of Glasgow, the USA’s newfound supremacy over Canada has to be called into question. The Eagles were undefeated against Canada under first-year head coach Mike Friday coming into Scotland, but a 40-0 hammering at the hands of their rivals Saturday has thickened the plot.
There will be other teams at the NACRA qualifier June 13-14 in Cary, N.C., but any final pairing outside of USA-Canada would mean a monumental upset occurred. So, as it’s seemed since the Olympic pathway was originally unveiled, the USA’s best chances at qualification will come down to one game against Canada.
Should the Eagles lose that game they’ll play for the final ticket to Rio in the repechage tournament. The toughest competition there will likely include the Oceania runner-up, so either Australia or Samoa, or some fringe World Series participants like Portugal, Spain, Hong Kong, etc.