Group draw kind to New Zealand teams
‘‘We have to be successful on the field and off the field, we’ve convinced the IOC members that the story that the players play [out] on the field will be fantastic.’’ World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset
New Zealand’s pool for the Olympic men’s sevens tournament has been confirmed in Rio.
Gordon Tietjens’ side headlines group C and will play Great Britain, Kenya and Japan when rugby makes its return to the Games in August.
Reigning World Series champions and gold medal favourites Fiji are the top seed in group A alongside USA, Argentina and host nation Brazil.
Group B, meanwhile, is made up of South Africa, Australia, France and Spain, who secured the final spot in Rio by stunning Samoa in the global repechage tournament two weeks ago.
New Zealand’s pool is the weakest based on last season’s World Series form and they will be heavy favourites to go through unbeaten.
Having only come together for the Olympics, the Great Britain side have little experience playing together and lack any big-name 15s players.
Kenya are capable of beating anyone on their day, as they showed when they won the Singapore Sevens in April, and Tietjens will certainly be wary of the African nation.
Japan will simply be happy to be in Rio after qualifying for the Olympic sevens groups: Brazil. Colombia. Fiji, USA, Argentina,
South Africa, Australia, France, Spain.
New Zealand, Great Britain, Kenya, Japan. Australia, USA, Fiji,
New Zealand, France, Spain, Kenya.
Canada, Great Britain, Brazil, Japan. Games despite not being a core team on the 2015-16 World Series.
In the women’s tournament, New Zealand are in group B along with France, Spain and Kenya.
Women’s World Series champions Australia headline group A ahead of USA, Fiji and Colombia.
Group C is made up of Canada, Great Britain, Brazil and Japan.
Both the men’s and women’s events will be played from August 6-11 with the New Zealand teams to be named in Auckland on Sunday.
The venue – a temporary pitch and stadium in the northern Rio de Janeiro suburb of Deodoro – is on the verge of completion, and World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset, who was at the announcement in Rio yesterday, is
Sonny Bill Williams is expected to be part of the New Zealand side going for gold in Rio.