Road to the Rugby World Cup Sevens: Men

Qualifying battles raged all over the world in 2008 as countries across the six IRB regions went head to head for coveted places at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai. We take a look back at the qualifying journey for the 24-team men's competition

Qualifying battles raged all over the world in 2008 as countries across the six IRB regions went head to head for coveted places at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009 in Dubai. We take a look back at the qualifying journey for the 24-team men's competition.

For the first time in Rugby World Cup Sevens history the seeds in Dubai will reflect recent international performance rather than past World Cup success. The hugely competitive IRB Sevens World Series and regional qualifiers will determine the men’s seeds, while the regional qualifiers will determine the rankings for the inaugural women’s tournament.

In the men’s competition the top 12 seeds are ranked on their cumulative points total over the last two IRB Sevens World Series, plus the opening two rounds of the 2008/09 Series. The top six teams will each top a competition pool with the teams ranked seven to 12 drawn in the second band.

The remaining 12 qualified teams will then be ranked from 13 to 24 based upon performances in their regional qualifiers and overall playing strength, and randomly drawn into the third and fourth bands to complete the structure.

MEN'S EVENT

The 24 men's teams for RWC Sevens 2009 are Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia, France, Scotland, Argentina (automatic qualifiers), host Union Arabian Gulf and regional qualifiers Uruguay (South America), Portugal, Wales, Georgia, Ireland, Italy (Europe), Samoa, Tonga (Oceania), Japan, Hong Kong (Asia), USA, Canada (North America), Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tunisia (Africa).

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS

The quarter finalists from RWC Sevens 2005 in Hong Kong - Fiji, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Australia, France, Scotland and Argentina, along with Arabian Gulf as the Host Union.

AFRICA

Qualified: Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tunisia

Kenya, Zimbabwe and hosts Tunisia secured the three qualification places on offer at the Africa regional men's qualifier - the last of the qualifying events - to complete the 24-team men's line up at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2009.

The Kenyans lived up to their billing as favourites by winning the tournament, beating Zimbabwe 26-14 in the final.

ASIA

Qualified: Japan and Hong Kong

Japan's men won in Asia to book their place alongside runners-up Hong Kong and the Arabian Gulf, who were pre-qualified as hosts in the 24-team draw.

The Japanese men are the only Asian team to have qualified for every Rugby World Cup and every Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament since the inception of these global rugby events in 1987 and 1993 respectively.

EUROPE

Qualified: Portugal, Wales, Georgia, Ireland and Italy

Portugal won the Hanover Sevens at the AWD Arena in July, outscoring Wales by four tries to two to win the Cup final 26-12 to be crowned European champions and lead the charge of the five qualifiers.

Runners up Wales, Georgia, Ireland and Italy also confirmed their passage to the Dubai showpiece, joining automatic qualifiers England, France and Scotland in the draw.

NORTH AMERICA

Qualified: USA and Canada

The USA Sevens team went undefeated at the Winton Rugby Club in Nassau, Bahamas in October, beating Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Bermuda before triumphing 21-12 over Canada in the final.

USA scored first through Chris Wyles but Canada hit back to level before the break. The Canadians then scored again shortly after the restart, but late tries by Justin Boyd and James Gillenwater secured the title for USA.

OCEANIA

Qualified: Samoa and Tonga

Led by their inspirational captain Uale Mai, Samoa were ruthless throughout the two days of the Oceania regional qualifier on home soil at Apia Park and overwhelmed Tonga 52-0 in the final.

Tries from Alatasi Tupou (2) and Alafoti Fa’osiliva gave Samoa a 26-0 lead at half-time and the hosts were just as dangerous after the break with Ofisa Treviranus, Fa’osiliva, Afa Aiono and David Lemi all touching down in the victory.

Tonga had already secured qualification by reaching the final to take their place alongside Samoa, defending champions Fiji, 2005 runners up New Zealand and the region's other automatic qualifier in the 24-team draw.

SOUTH AMERICA

Qualified: Uruguay

Uruguay qualified to play in their second Rugby World Cup Sevens after beating Chile 31-19 in a hard-fought final in Punta del Este back in January in the first regional qualifying tournament.

Chile had opened the scoring early on and went in leading 12-5 at the break, an advantage they extended to 19-5 in the first minute of the second half. However, Uruguay waited patiently for their opportunities and, in an unbelievable burst, score 26 unanswered points in the last five minutes to the delight of the home crowd.