Brazil’s men qualify automatically but the race to join them at Rio 2016 begins on the Gold Coast this weekend. Photo: IRB
International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has described the beginning of qualification for Rugby Sevens’ debut at the Olympic Games as an historic moment for the sport.
Rugby will return to the Olympic stage after a break of 92 years when 12 teams will compete in each of the men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens events at Rio 2016. As excitement builds within the global Rugby family, the road to Rio will begin this weekend for the world’s top male teams with the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.
Fiji hoists the Oceania 7s Cup after defeating New Zealand 21-5 in the final. Photo: FORU
In a pulsating men’s final New Zealand took the early lead but Fiji responded with some dazzling play to wrest back the initaitive with a converted try to make it 7-5 at half-time. Then converted tries to Vatemo Ravouvou and Fiji 400-metre sprinter Niko Verekauta broke the game apart for Fiji whose defence and all round play was too strong for New Zealand.
Fiji captain Nasoni Roko was delighted with the result, “We worked very hard this week to ensure we were ready and coach Ben Ryan has done a good job with the boys. We knew New Zealand would be very physical and they are always hard to beat. Luckily we have some good talent and in Niko we have some very fast speed out wide.”
Referee Chris Linwood from UAE during a match officials’ session at TOP in Stellenbosch: Photo: IRB
One of the key presentations at the IRB’s Talent Optimisation Programme (TOP) in Stellenbosch, South Africa, recently was entitled “Where is rugby going?” and it’s a safe bet that the simple answer to that question is “onwards and upwards”, in no small way thanks to courses such as this one.
The ninth edition of the TOP just concluded, hosted for the eighth time by the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport, about 50km east of Cape Town, and situated in an historic rugby centre. It targets coaches, trainers and match officials from unions that don’t have their own high-performance programme.
This year’s course involved 34 participants from countries as diverse as Canada, Fiji, Georgia, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Romania and Russia but it was also attended by delegates from Argentina and Scotland.