World Rugby have announced two pools for the World 7’s repechage tournament to decide the final spot for the Tokyo Olympics.
The tournament is scheduled for the 19th and 20th of June this year, in Monaco.
Our men in blue are pooled with Ireland, Tonga, Zimbabwe and Mexico. Pool B consists of Hong Kong, Chile, Uganda, Jamaica and frontrunner, France.
Manu Samoa 7’s also attended a repechage tournament prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016, when Samoa fell short in a devastating 22-19 loss to Spain, who scored a last minute try to steal the game and the last spot to the Rio Olympics.
Coach Muliagatele Brian Lima said the boys are continuing to work hard in preparation for the repechage despite border lockdowns prohibiting them from traveling abroad to get much needed game time at various tournaments.
“We have missed out on opportunities to join the All Black’s Olympic preparation with a few tournaments held in New Zealand we were invited to attend,” said the Samoa 7s Head Coach.
“The boys are working hard on fitness, strength and skill, but they need to be playing high level 7’s tournaments week-in, week-out to build their match fitness, and their on-field decision making and option taking,” said Muliagatele. “They haven’t played an international tournament together since we came together as a squad last year”.
Tonga had a men’s rugby 7’s team based in New Zealand for several months now in preparation for the repechage and getting quality game time in tournaments against the All Black 7’s side. However the Tongan Rugby Union have issued a press statement advising they regret the repechage team will now be selected from amongst Tongan players contracted across Europe.
Muliagatele said a formal request was made several weeks ago, for the possibility of Manu Samoa 7’s to be in New Zealand and properly prepare for the repechage to ensure Samoa’s chances for a spot at the Olympics.
The repechage tournament will be Brian Lima’s first representative tournament as Head Coach.
Samoa failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics under head coach Sir Gordon Tietjens. Many Manu fans would still have bad memories of the way the men in blue lost out to Australia at the Oceania 7’s tournament in 2019 which would have guaranteed Samoa a spot in Tokyo.
Samoa led 14-0 at halftime before a heartbreaking second half riddled with crucial unforced errors, resulting in Australia running away with a 21-14 win.
BJ is a part-time sports reporter who has recently completed a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting at Waikato University. BJ plays club rugby for Fraser Tech in Hamilton. He is a youth group member of Apia Harvest Centre in Apia, and Arise Church in Hamilton.