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South Africa, Fiji qualify for Rio Olympics at Glasgow 7s

May 9, 2015

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Sevens world series leaders South Africa and Fiji were the first to qualify for rugby’s return to the Olympics next year when they reached the Glasgow Sevens quarterfinals on Saturday.

Fiji was rapt with the achievement. The sevens team is Fiji’s most successful in world sports, and will be under pressure to earn for the South Pacific nation its first medal at any Olympics, summer or winter.

“It feels a little bit emotional,” Fiji coach Ben Ryan said. “We’ve put in so much work to get to this stage, and I know everyone on the island will be delighted with this. It’s really a fantastic day for Fiji.”

By coincidence, Fiji and South Africa will meet in the quarterfinals on Sunday, dealing one a blow in the race to the series title. Fiji has won two of their three matchups this season.

Fiji, winner of three of the seven tournaments so far, swept its pool in style, beating Wales 40-17, Portugal 49-12 and host Scotland 45-5.

South Africa rebounded from 5-0 down to Kenya at halftime to win 22-5, then clinched a berth in Rio de Janeiro when New Zealand made an even bigger comeback, from 19-0 down against Samoa, to win 26-19 with a Rieko Ioane hat trick of tries.

New Zealand, the defending series champion and defending Glasgow champ, put a slight dent in South Africa’s celebrations by winning their pool match 24-19, controlling play for the most part.

New Zealand can also qualify for Rio by reaching the semifinals on Sunday at Scotstoun Stadium. The Kiwis will have to go through Scotland.

The other quarterfinals feature Canada, last year’s surprise finalist, against England, and Australia vs. the United States.

Canada lost to Argentina, but blanked the U.S. and Japan to advance. England was unbeaten after opening with a 17-17 draw with Australia.

Australia topped its pool on points difference, and meets the Americans, who beat Argentina 21-14 to book a last-eight spot.

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