Details about Europe’s 2019 sevens championship and Olympic qualification process were published last week, and show some changes from four years ago
The difficulties faced by European teams in this year’s World Series is likely to mean that the continental qualification process will be even more closely contested this year than four years ago.
With just three rounds of the World Series to go, France - the best placed European team – is now 14 points away from an Olympic qualification spot. In essence that means France probably have to reach at least two finals in the remaining three rounds, which is a tall order when the best European finish this season has been fourth.
As a result, the qualification route for Tokyo 2020 for European teams is likely to be limited to one place from a European qualifier, and one place from the World Repecharge.
In most parts of the world the continental championship will be the Olympic qualifier – which was the case in Europe in 2015 when the place was won by France (after England had won a spot for Great Britain via the World Series).
Europe then organised a separate tournament, featuring the rest of the teams from the Grand Prix (other than France and those from Great Britain), plus the leading teams from the Trophy and Conference, to decide which three European teams would take part in the World Repecharge, which was eventually won by Spain.
This year it will be a little different.
On 29-30th June the first round of the European Grand Prix will take place in Marcoussis. June will also feature the two legs of the European Trophy (the second tier event) and the single European Conference event.
The top nine teams from Marcoussis, not including Wales or Scotland, (so essentially all of other teams other than whoever finishes 12th) plus the top two teams from the European Trophy plus the winner of the European Conference will compete in a single Olympic qualification tournament in Kazan on 13-14th July.
Presumably “England” will be replaced by “Great Britain” for this qualification tournament, but that is not necessarily certain. No announcements have been made by the RFU, and last year’s European Youth Olympic qualifier saw only an England team take part.
The winner of the Kazan tournament will then qualify for the Olympics with probably the other semi-finalists proceeding to the Repecharge (though this is not yet confirmed).
The second leg of the Grand Prix will then follow on 20-21st July.
The 36 European teams taking part in this process, with their seedings, will be:
Grand Prix: 1 - Russia; 2 - France; 3 - Ireland; 4 - Scotland; 5 - Belgium; 6 - England; 7 - Poland; 8 - Wales; 9 - Italy; 10 - Spain; 11 - Netherlands; 12 - Ukraine
Trophy: 1 - Germany; 2 - Portugal; 3 - Sweden; 4 - Romania; 5 - Hungary; 6 - Czechia; 7 - Switzerland; 8 - Finland; 9 - Norway; 10 - Israel; 11 - Georgia; 12 - Turkey
Conference: 1 - Austria; 2 - Latvia; 3 - Croatia; 4 - Bulgaria; 5 - Denmark; 6 - Moldova; 7 - Malta; 8 - Slovakia; 9 - Andorra; 10 - Luxembourg; 11 - Lithuania; 12 - Slovenia