Race for Final Spot of Automatic Olympic Qualification Goes to the Final Round

Samoa's Co-Captain Trio Regroup for Final Leg.

19 May 2023, Apia Samoa and Twickenham London. With the All Blacks 7s already crowned HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 champions in Toulouse last weekend, the main focus of this weekend’s London Sevens is on the fourth and final spot for automatic Olympic qualification.

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New Zealand, Argentina and Fiji have already booked their place alongside hosts France as guaranteed top-four finishers, however, the race for the fourth and final automatic ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will be decided in this final round of the world series.

Samoa is still in contention with Australia and South Africa. The Aussies go into London with 125 points –  9 points ahead of Samoa and South Africa, who are equal on 116 points.

Samoa is pooled with Australia, and they are joined by France and Spain. South Africa are pooled with World 7s Series champions New Zealand, joined by USA and Great Britain.

The Manu Samoa 7s squad were hit with injuries in the lead up to the final two legs. Two days before flying out to the Toulouse tournament, injuries hit Steve Rimoni (knee) and BJ Lima (dislocated elbow).

A statement from the team confirms more injuries sustained by players during last weeks Toulouse 7s.

Veteran Paul Scanlan as well as forwards Levi Milford and Faamaoni Suetena were all ruled out after last weekend’s dismal performance where the Manu lost to Ireland, Australia and Spain.

Three more players injured in Toulouse have been cleared for this week’s final round in London. Vaafauese Apelu-Maliko with a hip injury while Neueli Leitufia and Taunuu Niulevaea are nuring calf and quad injuries respectively.

“Apelu-Maliko, Leitufia and Niulevaea all sustained injuries during the Toulouse 7s but continued playing, and will still be available for London,” reads a statement from the MS7s.

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The 13-man squad announced for London sees the return of Co-Captain Melani Matavao, who had left the squad to try out for the Rugby World Cup 15s team.

Youngsters Fuli Faafouina and Malo Luteru will be looking at displaying in Twickenham what we know they are capable of week-in week-out at Apia Park.

Still in high school, Tepatasi’s Malakesi Puna Masefau will look to take all the lessons learned from his debut in Toulouse and turn them around in London.

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The 13th man has not yet been announced, however, former RLS student and Northland NZ NPC player, Pisi Leilua will be looking to make his debut for Samoa, as well as the French-based Elijah Niko looking to represent his home nation on the world stage at the grand old age of 32.


Daniel M Limā