Rio 2016 Olympics: only one berth for England, Wales and Scotland to ‘qualify’ GB team

December 4th, 20126:59 pm @


Even the system outlined by Gosper is not without its weaknesses – the
potential for collusion in some games wif the Home nations were drawn
against each other would be there – but at least it doesn’t start from a
premis that is fundamentally unfair.

Such a system will heighten the interest in the HSBC World series for 2013-14
with the Home Union sides battling to become the domestic ‘top dog’ and
assume the driving seat for the GB programme heading towards Rio.

GB would be free to select players from England, Wales and Scotland but the
qualifying side would expect to form the rump of the squad.

It is understood that Ulster players who are contracted to the IRFU will not
be considered although they would be free to contest that decision legally
if they felt strongly enough about it. Olympic eligibility is passport based
and a number of Ulster players who represent Ireland are UK passport

If GB safely qualify via a top four in the 2014-15 World Series from their
nominated team, Gosper has confirmed that there is no way that GB team can
be accommodated in the HSBC 2015-2016 World series in order to clock up
invaluable match-time together. “Again that would affect the integrity
of the competition and would not be allowed. The three nations would of
course still be eligible to compete in competition individually.”

Which again is not a great deal of use to an embryo GB team who will have to
consider organising a number of Invitation tournaments to get their game
time together.

Potentially GB should be able to field a Sevens team capable of winning gold
but actually building a mechanism to put that squad together is proving
fiendishly difficult.

Meanwhile, Sir Clive Woodward, who has recently stepped down from the BOA, has
urged the Home Unions and Great Britain to move with much more urgency.

He said: “It’s not going to be easy for GB because of some of the unique
issues around the formation of the side but what I do know is the Home
unions need to get something in place pretty quickly and approved by the

“We need one of our Sevens experts guiding this project. Other nations
have got their funding, structures and programmes in place already, they
have started their Olympic cycles – and if GB think they can throw something
together in the last 6-12 months we will be gravely mistaken.

“I just know that in a few years time when rugby looks back at the 2016
Olympics its going to be seen as one of the most important ever moments in
the sport’s evolution.

“Rio will offer an incredible stage for the sport and target for those
chasing gold medals. I know for example that there is nothing higher on the
NZRFU agenda than coming back with two golds. GB need to be matching that
commitment and vision.”

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