New Zealand Women’s and Samoa Men’s have been confirmed by World Rugby within the six men’s and six women’s teams that will participate in the rugby sevens competitions at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 13 to 15 October.
Rugby sevens is featuring at a YOG for the second time, having made a blistering debut in Nanjing, China four years ago where Australia’s women and France’s men struck gold. The YOG is an important player development pathway for aspiring Olympic athletes with workshops off the field complementing the action on the field.
In Buenos Aires, the men’s competition will feature hosts and reigning silver medallists Argentina, France, Japan, Samoa, South Africa and USA. The women’s competition will comprise Canada, Colombia, France, Kazakhstan, New Zealand and Tunisia.
In the men’s competition Samoa and South Africa will make their youth Olympic debuts, while Colombia, France, Kazakhstan and New Zealand will all make their first appearance at a Youth Olympic Games in the women’s tournament.
The teams were confirmed and ratified by World Rugby and the International Olympic Committee after the selection of participating team sports by the respective National Olympic Committees.
In total 144 players aged 16-18 will participate with one nation from each of World Rugby’s six regional associations being represented in both the men’s and women’s tournaments following a series of qualification events in 2017 and 2018. New Zealand and Samoa both competed at the inaugural Oceania Rugby u18 Sevens Championships in April 2018 as a part of the qualification process with New Zealand winning the Women’s tournament.
Rugby Sevens will be one of 32 sports to feature at Buenos Aires 2018 and the rugby sevens competition will take place at Club Atletico San Isidro sede la Boya as part of the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Confirmation of the teams is an important milestone on the road to the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and an exciting moment for the young women and men who are in contention to be selected to represent their nations and sport on an Olympic stage.
“The experiences that our aspiring young Olympic hopefuls will gain in Buenos Aires through a programme of athlete engagement and education initiatives will assist in shaping the character of men and women they will become in a sporting and wider context. They will compete in the spirit of fair play, appreciate the importance of playing on a level playing fields and do their families, their nations and their sport proud.”
World Rugby Vice Chairman Agustin Pichot added: “As a proud Argentinean and Olympic Games fan, I am looking forward to seeing the next generation of aspiring Olympic rugby sevens stars competing in my home city. There is a massive rugby following in Buenos Aires and I am sure that all of the players and their teams will be warmly embraced. It will be a fantastic experience.”
Nanjing 2014 proved to be an important stepping stone for the participating players with the likes of Sacha Valleau (France men), and Hannah Darling and Charity Williams (both Canada women) graduating to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and become regular competitors on the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Yan Meiling went on from winning bronze with China’s women in Nanjing to captain her country at the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, while Argentina’s Bautista Delguy who claimed silver in Nanjing is currently representing Los Pumas in the Rugby Championship. Many more players will now have their eyes on the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games, where rugby sevens has already been confirmed on the sports programme.
Olympic inclusion has had a profound effect on rugby sevens and been a game-changer for rugby as a whole. Following the sport’s successful introduction at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games it is estimated that the rugby sevens fan-base grew by more than 30 million as a result, with sevens instrumental in lowering the average age of World Rugby’s fan-base from above 35 to below 24 while expanding international reach, with emerging markets such as the USA, China, India and Brazil showing substantial growth.
For more information on the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires visit www.buenosaires2018.com
Youth Olympic Games Rugby Sevens Teams, Buenos Aires 2018