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Langford, B.C., to host North American Olympic rugby sevens qualifier

Canada's Bianca Farella looks to tackle Mexico's Daniela Alvarado during the first half of rugby action at the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Canada will have home-field advantage for this summer's Rugby Americas North Sevens, which serves as the regional qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito Canada's Bianca Farella looks to tackle Mexico's Daniela Alvarado during the first half of rugby action at the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Canada will have home-field advantage for this summer's Rugby Americas North Sevens, which serves as the regional qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
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Canada will have home-field advantage for this summer's Rugby Americas North Sevens, which serves as the regional qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 19-20 in Langford, B.C., at Starlight Stadium, which hosted HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stops for six years (2015 to 2019 and 2022) before the women's event was wrapped into the Canada Sevens in Vancouver this year.

Rugby Americas North (RAN) is the governing body for rugby union in the North American continental region and serves as one of World Rugby's six regional unions.

Teams finishing in the top four of the overall standings World Rugby Sevens Series this season automatically qualify for Paris 2024. The rest will have to qualify via regional competitions like the one in Langford.

The winner of the RAN men's qualifier will book their ticket to the Olympics while the second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualification tournament.

The top women's team will also qualify for Paris, unless in the unlikely event that both Canada and the U.S. pre-qualify, in which case the top team from the regional qualifier goes through to a final qualification tournament.

New Zealand currently leads the men's World Series standings, ahead of Argentina, France, Fiji and Australia. The Canadian men stand 14th -- in the relegation zone given the men's core field is being trimmed to 12 teams from 16 next season to align with both the women's structure and the Olympic field.

The 15th-ranked core team following the penultimate round May 12-14 in Toulouse, France, will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th after Toulouse will enter a four-team relegation playoff together with the Challenger Series 2023 winners at the 11th and final round of the World Series on May 20-21 in London.

Both men and women are competing in Hong Kong this weekend. There are three men's and one women's event left after Hong Kong.

New Zealand also tops the women's overall standings, followed by Australia, the U.S. and France. The Canadian women are eighth.

“RAN is excited to be staging the 2023 senior men's and women's sevens event at Starlight Stadium in Langford," RAN president George Nicholson said in a statement. “Not only is it a fitting venue for the most prestigious event in our region this year, but it will also provide our unions who do not compete on the HSBC Sevens circuit with a glimpse of what it is like at the next level."

Both the Canadian men and women made it to the Tokyo Olympics by way of the RAN qualifier. The Canadian men went on to finish eighth in Japan while the women, bronze medallists at the 2016 Rio Olympics, placed ninth.

The U.S. men and women both finished sixth in Tokyo.

Mexico and Jamaica sent their men’s and women’s sides to the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco, but failed to make the Tokyo field.

RAN's membership currently consists of Canada, the U.S., Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023.

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