Sevens qualification revamped
September 19, 2012
The Hong Kong leg of the Sevens series will see two tournaments running parallel © Getty Images
The final leg of this season's HSBC Sevens World Series will see a new method of qualification introduced.
This season's series sees an expansion in the number of core teams from 12 to 15. Canada, Portugal and Spain will now join the likes of Samoa, New Zealand and England throughout the whole season of sevens in the 15-team strong group. But at the end of the season, the IRB has introduced a new promotion and relegation system.
At the Hong Kong leg of the Sevens series, the number of teams featuring will increase from 24 to 28 teams with the current 15 core countries - a list that includes England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia - being joined by the Asia Sevens Series champions to contest the Hong Kong title. In a second competition, 12 nations will compete for places at the core team qualifying final in London two months later.
And at the Twickenham there will be two parallel tournaments running with the top 12-ranked countries contesting for the silverware on offer while the other three - ranked from 13-15 - will be playing the five pre-qualified sides from Hong Kong. They will battle it out for the three available slots for 2013-14.
"As we enter our first four-year Olympic cycle for rugby sevens and build towards Rio 2016, it is important that the opportunity exists for all nations to progress to series core team status if they are good enough," International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset said. "We are confident that this new system provides every nation competing in their regional qualifying tournament with a direct chance to gain core team status and compete on every round of the World Series.
"We are also accelerating towards our Olympic Games debut in Rio, and this change to the series structure underscores our commitment to ensuring a transparent opportunity-for-all pathway to the Games."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies