UK Sport - the main British government funding body for sport - has turned down a request for funding for the GB Women's Sevens team for Rio.
An application from the RFU for funding for GB sevens teams for the Rio Olympics has been rejected by UK Sport because they believe that the RFU is rich enough to self-fund the teams. Football, golf and tennis will also not be included in the World-Class Programmes (WCP) of UK Sport for the same reason.
Inside The Games' David Owen reports today (Thursday) that the request was considered at the elite funding body's January 2014 board meeting, when the main topic on the agenda was the annual investment review recommendations that have seen a number of Olympic and Paralympic sports stripped of their Rio 2016 cycle world-class performance funding.
According to the minutes the RFU were specifically applying (on behalf of "GB7s") for funding for the women's team "to support Rio preparation for the GB women's 7s teams (when formally formed) to enable the athletes to commit to centralised training".
Contacted by insidethegames, the RFU said it was "continuing to support England women's 7s to perform at the World Sevens Series which is one route to Olympic qualification" and was also "currently progressing through business planning to identify budgets for all programmes for next season", with the England women's sevens programme "up for consideration through this process".
It also said that "GB7s" was "being established" to represent all Home Countries and would be "responsible for the GB programme". The aim is that the teams managed by GB7s (men's and women's) will "genuinely be a GB squad made up of England, Scotland and Wales players." though "ultimately it will all be down to selection in the end as to the make-up of the squad," the RFU said.
As we reported earlier this year, qualification for the Olympics will initially be based on the performance of one of the GB teams in the 2014/15 World Series, to be chosen by the British Olympic Association (and, in the case of the women's team, almost certainly England) as GB teams could not take part for contractual reasons.
Only if England were fail to gain an automatic place via the 2014/15 WSWS is it possible that they might compete in qualification events under the banner of Great Britain.