The All Blacks Sevens have cemented their spot at next year’s Olympic Games with one tournament to spare despite a fifth-place finish at the London Sevens.
Confirmation of the qualification came on Day One, after victories over Scotland and Ireland, the All Blacks Sevens dropped to England but a superior points difference over the home nation was enough to advance top of the pool and lock in the ticket to Tokyo.
With the Black Ferns Sevens also securing their qualification recently, both teams have booked their spots for the Tokyo Olympics, as they eye the trifecta along with the World Cup, and Commonwealth Games gold medal.
That news was dulled by a disappointing London quarterfinal, which was decided by a final-play penalty try, and saw the All Blacks Sevens bundled out of cup contention. The team finished strong to put away South Africa and Ireland in their closing matches for the fifth-place finish.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated the team on confirming their spot in Tokyo.
“Qualifying for the Tokyo has been a key strategic goal for both sevens teams and for the New Zealand Rugby this year. This is a significant achievement and I congratulate the All Blacks Sevens on joining the Black Ferns Sevens on this milestone. We now look for forward to building towards the Olympics in 2020,” said Tew.
All Blacks Sevens co-Captain Tim Mikkelson said the team was pleased to tick off the big goal of Olympic qualification.
“It was awesome news to find out about the qualification, it was our first goal for the year so to do it with a tournament still to go is pretty good. It means now we can just focus on ourselves and try to win the last tournament.”
The All Blacks Sevens have won two tournaments this season, opening with gold in Dubai and following up with victory in Sydney. They sit third on the World Series standings behind Fiji and USA.
The season ends this weekend at the Paris Sevens, the All Blacks Sevens will have a chance to turn the tables on their quarterfinal loss, drawn in Pool D with the hosts, France, along with Scotland and Japan.