Men’s rugby sevens squad set to play final Olympic qualifier

The Canadian men’s rugby sevens team has one last shot at earning a berth for Rio 2016.

The final Olympic spot will be awarded to the winner of this weekend’s rugby sevens qualification tournament in Monaco. Sixteen teams – broken into four pools – will compete in the event.

Canada will play in Pool B with Germany, Uruguay and Sri Lanka. All three preliminary round games will take place on Saturday while the playoff round will be held on Sunday. TSN will have coverage of Canada’s matches.

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Samoa (9th in the 2015-16 Sevens Series season), Canada (13th) and Russia (14th) are the only three World Rugby Sevens Series regulars competing in the event.

Samoa, which defeated Fiji to win the Paris Sevens last month, is considered one of the favourite to win the tournament. However, they’ve been placed in what is being called the tournament’s “pool of death” with Tonga, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

Russia, meanwhile, will play in Pool C with Chile, Morocco and Tunisia. The Russians finished 12 points back of Canada in the World Series standings.

Pool D includes Hong Kong, Spain, Mexico and South Korea.

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John Moonlight makes a pass to his team in a match against Samoa at London Sevens 2016 (Photo: Rugby Canada).

John Moonlight makes a pass to his team in a match against Samoa at London Sevens 2016 (Photo: Rugby Canada).

Liam Middleton, Canada’s head coach, told The Canadian Press that he considers his team, along with Samoa and Russia, as the favourites to win. He added that Hong Kong, Germany and Zimbabwe have the ability to beat anybody.

Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Britain, Fiji, France, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States have already qualified for Rio 2016. Men’s and women’s rugby sevens will be making its debut as an Olympic sport from August 6 to 11 at Deodoro Stadium.

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The Canadian women’s team made history last May, becoming the first rugby team from Canada to qualify for an Olympic Games.