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American Samoa

And so it begins in Australia tomorrow. The 2014/2015 HSBC nine-event international sevens. The two key words for the tournaments are “Olympics” and “points.” 

Finish in the top four slots and book a ticket to Rio 2016. Fail, and continue with one of the six qualifying global tournaments later in 2015. Fail to win in one of these and enter a final repechage for the 12th Olympic slot.

Tension. Tension. Tension.

Countries will be rooting for other countries to make the final four because this will eliminate the top four from these six regional contests. Here’s how the rooting goes:

Region            Team               Root For                       Rationale

Europe             France              England                        Eliminates top 7s competitor

Africa               Kenya               S. Africa                          “                       “           “

Oceania            Australia          NZ, Samoa, Fiji              Eliminates three top teams

Notice that missing from this list are North and South America. Argentina has not demonstrated the ability to finish in the top four, not has Canada. So it is unrealistic for Uruguay or the USA to root for their neighbors to reverse history and advance into the final four.

Last year, Canada experienced a fabulous sixth place finish, their highest placement ever. But statistics indicate that to make it into the top four group, a team needs to be consistent in all nine tournaments. Its major points for all events.  Three or four high finishes will not generate the point total needed to gain the final four.

Since the announcement by the International Olympic Committee of how the 12-teams (men’s and women’s) would be selected, numerous permutations and combinations have been written demonstrating the possible results. The time has come for the games to begin to let the decision move from speculation to the pitch.

(The flag you probably never saw before in the photo is a competitor in this Gold Coast, Australia event. It is American Samoa.)