Although not yet formally announced on the World Rugby website, details about the likely qualification process for next year’s Women’s Sevens World Series have been revealed.
Ireland faced with a tough battle ahead to qualify for next year's World Series
The 2016/17 WSWS will again include 11 core teams, with one guest team at each of an as yet unknown number of tournaments (though we would expect at least five, and possibly six). This, we understand, will be made up of:
- The top nine teams from the 2015/16 Series
- The highest ranked team from the Global Repechage, that has not already qualified
- The highest ranked team from the Olympics, that has not already qualified
After Spain’s 6th place Langford, and taking into account that Brazil will not be at the final round next month in Clermont, the nine automatic qualifiers will almost certainly be: Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, France, Russia, United States, Fiji and Spain.
With Japan and Ireland nine and 12 points behind Spain they would have to finish at least five (or for Ireland six) places higher than the Spanish to automatically qualify for next year’s series. As a result, both will almost certainly have to rely on their performances in the Repecharge or the Games.
Ireland will be the only team taking part in the Repecharge who have not already qualified for 2016/17, so to play in next year’s series Ireland will have to finish ahead of every other team in the Repecharge, except Russia and Spain. In practice this means that they will need a minimum finish of third place in Dublin, or higher if either Russia or Spain fail to reach the final.
If Ireland (or any other team, apart from Spain and Russia) win the qualifier they will automatically play in next year’s Series, so the final place will be contested for by Japan and the three non-WSWS teams taking part in the Games – Brazil, Colombia and Kenya. Whichever of these four finishes highest in the ranking will join next year’s series (in practice, and on current form, this will probably mean whoever wins the Bowl).
The one nation that clearly loses most from this process this year is South Africa. Arguably the unluckiest team in Dublin WSWS Qualifier last year, where they looked the best team in the contest until their semi-final defeat, they will now miss out again because they are neither at the Repecharge or the Olympics following decisions made by their Olympic Committee. On current form the Hong Kong Sevens winners would have been confident of at least making the quarter-finals in Rio.
The Netherlands surprise loss to Portugal in last year's European Repecharge also comes back to haunt them.