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The International Olympic Committee must be delighted with the sixteen Women’s rugby sevens teams competing for the final and 12th spot in the Rio Olympics. The repechage tournament will take place in Dublin, at the University College Bowl on this Saturday and Sunday with tickets starting as low as €5 ($6.00).
The IOC appreciation stems from the unusual array of competing countries, many smaller nations that have either never been in a summer Olympics, or others that have not been in medal contention. These squads come from all continents, and even include the two island nations of Trinidad and Tobago, and from the vast South Pacific, the Cook Islands.
Few in the stands will be able to identify the competitors from flags, rarely seen flying in international rugby events.
Two favorites – There would be low odds for Spain and Russia, both of which competed in this season’s five tournament, World Rugby circuit. These are seasoned teams and both have wins this year over the USA Eagles.
Next rank – A notch or two below Spain and Russia are Ireland and Hong Kong, both with some experience. The Irish women achieved a fourth place 2014 Rugby World Cup finish, which included the women’s upset of the new millennium against New Zealand.
Mid pack – This is the largest category numbering teams that have played fifteens and sevens occasionally. They are: Samoa, Zimbabwe, Mexico, China, Uruguay, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Portugal, and Argentina.
Long shots – The three are Trinidad and Tobago, the Cook Islands, and Madagascar.
Pool A – Russia, Samoa, Zimbabwe, Madagascar
Pool B – Spain, Mexico, Uruguay, Tunisia
Pool C – Ireland, China, Portugal, Trinidad and Tobago
Pool D – Hong Kong, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Cook Islands
Can Spain Women advance to Rio, following the Men’s qualifying victory?