You are here
The Olympic rugby schedules have been announced. The women’s competition kicks off Saturday Aug. 6 and wraps up with the medal games Monday Aug. 8. The men’s competition commences the following day, and their medal rounds are set for Thursday Aug. 11.
With the unveiling of the schedules comes the reveal of some previously unknown tidbits. For example, teams who don’t reach the quarterfinals still have something to play for. The bottom four teams after pool play will go into their own bracket, and at the end of the competition each place will have been played for. So there are 11th-place, 9th-place, 7th-place, etc. games
We also now know how the quarterfinals will be configured. The top two teams from each pool will advance, along with the top two third-place teams – no news there. But it will not be re-seeded after the group stage.
Whoever wins Pool A, home of the first seed going in, so Fiji on the men’s side and Australia on the women’s, will play the second-best third-place team in the quarterfinals. Whoever wins Pool B will play the top third-place team. Pool C’s winner will play Pool A’s runner-up. And the second comers in Pool B and Pool C will face off.
With both the men’s and women’s Eagles entering the competition in sixth-place, they’re in similar positions. They have the match that will likely decide if they make the quarterfinals up first, followed by the one they’re favored to win – both on day one. Then they open the second day against the tournament’s top seeds.
Team USA’s women will open against Fiji Aug. 6 at 12:00 p.m. ET and face Colombia at 6:30 that evening. Sunday they have top-seeded Australia at 1:30 p.m. ET. Their first bracket-play game will be that evening.
The men open against Argentina Aug. 9 at 1:00 p.m. ET, and they play host Brazil at 6:00 that evening. Wednesday they play favorite Fiji at 1:30 p.m. ET, with bracket play to follow.
The way the pools and brackets play out, should the men finish second in their pool they will likely see New Zealand in the quarterfinals. The All Blacks are favored to top their group, which also includes Great Britain, Kenya and Japan.
If the Eagles beat out Fiji and Argentina and win their group, it’s not as easy to predict. If chalk holds in Pools B and C, South Africa and Australia will be the top two teams in B and New Zealand and Great Britain the top two teams in C. Brazil, Spain and Japan are heavy underdogs and expected to finish last in their groups. So that means the three-team race for the final two slots could well be down to Argentina, France and Kenya. Whoever had the worst go of pool play would be the USA’s quarterfinal opponent.
If the USA finished behind Argentina and Fiji, but ahead of Brazil, it’d still be in the running. In that scenario, it could well be point differential that makes or breaks the Eagles for a shot at medaling. If they came in as the top third-place team, they’d probably face South Africa, who’s favored to win Pool B. If they came in as the second-best third-place team, they’d most likely be in for a rematch with Fiji.
The women’s side is a little more difficult to predict, with the Women’s World Series being so young with so few stops and so many teams competing in the Olympic outside the World Series core. But the most likely scenario is Team USA losing to Australia and defeating Fiji and Colombia to come in second in Pool A. Canada will likely win Pool C, but if not, it’ll be Great Britain. The Eagles will probably see one or the other in the quarterfinals.