Great Britain side facing Olympic qualification
December 1, 2010
England's Kevin Barrett breaks away during the recent Commonwealth Games © Getty Images
The IRB has confirmed that a Great Britain Sevens side would have to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Previously, British teams in both hockey and football have competed after one of the home nations qualified on behalf of the rest. Discussions are now underway between the respective unions of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland about how to manage the creation of a composite side.
Mark Egan, the IRB's head of development and performance, confirmed the structure would need to be in place for a Great Britain team to compete in a European qualification programme in the build-up to the games.
"There will be a Great Britain team that will have to qualify for the Olympics as Great Britain," he said. "At the moment the unions themselves are discussing it in terms of how they see it working for them. It needs to be a solution that is right for rugby."
A final decision on the qualification structure will not be taken until after the 2012 London Games. The side would initially compete in a European event before a global tournament to provide a second chance for qualification in the 12-team line-up for both men and women.
Egan also did not rule out the possibility of the composite side competing in the IRB Sevens World Series.
"We are looking at all options," he said. "Those countries have expressed a strong desire to be in there as individual countries because it is important for their player development pathways and I'd say they would be reluctant to give that up.
"But if it is Olympic qualification, everyone has to buy into that because we have to conform with what the IOC will allow us to do. We can't just implement whatever we want."
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