Tokyo Olympics spot up for grabs at African Women’s Sevens tournament

MONASTIR – The Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens tournament, which takes place in Monastir, Tunisia, this weekend will be the next opportunity for a team to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Mustapha Ben Jannet Stadium will host 12 women’s teams across two days as they compete to claim their place in Tokyo.

In current order of ranking, the participating teams include defending champions Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Botswana, Zambia, Morocco, Mauritius, South Africa and Ghana. South Africa’s low ranking is because the LadyBlitzBokke’s absence from last year’s tournament. 

The Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens will be the third regional qualifier on the road to Tokyo after tournaments in South America and Europe took place in June and July, with this weekend’s winner joining Brazil and Great Britain in Tokyo.

The HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019 acted as the principal route for qualification, with New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia claiming the coveted top-four spots to secure their places at Tokyo 2020.

As host nation, Japan automatically qualified, taking the number of confirmed women’s teams to seven at present.

South Africa’s Mathrin Simmers comments ahead of their departure for Tunisia. Video: SA Rugby

Rugby Sevens will make its second appearance on the Olympic Games programme at Tokyo 2020 after its successful debut at Rio 2016.

The inclusion of rugby sevens in the Olympics had a profound effect on the sport, which saw its fan-base increase by almost 17-million in six key territories, with Tokyo 2020 expected to unearth an estimated 30-million new fans worldwide.

“This tournament marks another exciting step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” said World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont. “We have seen a number of teams secure their places at next year’s Olympic Games over the past season in some truly competitive tournaments, and with so much at stake, the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens will provide high-quality rugby."

The remaining women’s regional qualification tournaments will take place next month, with the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship in Suva, Fiji, on November 7-9 and the Asian qualifier in Guangzhou, China, on November 9-10.

The final two places in the women’s competition in Tokyo 2020 will be determined by the World Rugby Olympic Repechage tournament in June 2020.

The second and third-placed teams from Monastir this weekend will join France, Russia, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Jamaica as the already confirmed teams in this Repechage.

Rugby Africa logo 218.svg - Tokyo Olympics spot up for grabs at African Women's Sevens tournament

South Africa will not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics even if they win the tournament in Tunisia this weekend as they have not achieved the qualification level required by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).   

The World Rugby Sevens Series 2020 kicked off on October 5-6 in Glendale, Colorado, with USA claiming the gold medal.

The world series continues in Dubai on  December 5-7 with a combined men’s and women’s event. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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