Group draw kind to New Zealand teams

The Dominion Post - - Olympic Games Countdown - SEV­ENS

‘‘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

PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT

Sonny Bill Wil­liams is ex­pected to be part of the New Zealand side go­ing for gold in Rio.

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