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Rugby Canada bidding to host Olympic sevens qualifiers in Langford

Qualifier for sevens competition in Paris 2024 would take place in August
Team Canada and team Spain run onto the field during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop at Starlight Stadium Saturday, April 30, 2022. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Rugby Canada is bidding to host the Olympics qualifier sevens event in Langford in August 2023.

The event would see 12 teams take to the field at Starlight Stadium later this year, as they bid to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The announcement was part of a presentation given to Langford city council during Monday’s (March 6) meeting, during which Nathan Bombrys, chief executive officer at Rugby Canada, reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to working with the city.

ALSO READ: Independent review paints damning, dysfunctional picture of Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada moved their headquarters to Langford in 2013 and established its national training centre in the city in 2018. Since then, a number of development programs have been moved or established out of the centre.

But this year, the women’s sevens event was moved to Vancouver to be hosted on the same weekend as the men’s event, after a request from the sport’s governing body World Rugby, according to former interim CEO Jamie Levchuk.

An independent review of Rugby Canada’s high-performance programs released in March 2022 cited problems some athletes had with Rugby Canada basing its operations and athletes in Langford on Vancouver Island.

“Langford is not viewed as a positive place to live with it being framed as ‘expensive’ and ‘isolated,’” it says.

The teams themselves have not hit the heights of previous years.

The women’s team finished sixth in the Vancouver Sevens while the men’s team finished 15th. The men came into the tournament sitting 14th in the World Rugby Sevens Series standings and are fighting to avoid relegation, with the number of men’s core teams for the 2024 season set to be cut from 16 to 12, to match the women’s side and the Olympic competition structure.

The men needed to reach the quarterfinals of the next four tournaments — while managing wins when playing the teams ahead of them — to gain enough points to climb into 11th place or better and avoid playing in a relegation playoff.

The top four men’s and women’s teams at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

READ MORE: Canadian teams out of rugby sevens medal hunt


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