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Olympic rugby sevens at Tokyo 2020: Top five things to know

Your one-stop guide to rugby at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, including top athletes, venue information, schedule and more!
By Andrew Binner

After a successful Olympic debut at Rio 2016, rugby sevens is back on the Olympic programme for Tokyo 2020.

Japan hosted the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup in 2019, meaning there will be plenty of excitement for the shortened version of the game at the Olympics.

Below, we take a look at the rugby players expected to light up the Tokyo Stadium in 2021, the schedule, and even some history in our guide to Olympic rugby sevens.

Top Olympic rugby players at Tokyo 2020

When Fiji won the men’s tournament in Rio, Jerry Tuwai was one of the standout players.

Five years later, the man who writes ‘knife’ and ‘fork’ on his boots, arguably still has the fastest footwork in the sport, and as his nation’s captain will be intent on adding another gold medal to his, and Fiji’s, cabinet.

Two men he’ll need to keep an eye out on are Carlin Isles and Perry Baker - the lightning quick wingers at the heart of the USA’s emergence as one of the world’s best teams.

The leading try scorer in world rugby sevens series history Dan Norton is the man to watch for Rio runners-up Great Britain.

The women’s competition will once again be littered with star talent.

Reigning Olympic champions Australia will look to talisman Charlotte Caslick, and try-scoring machine Ellia Green to spearhead their challenge.

New Zealand agonisingly lost out in the Rio 2016 final to their Antipodean sisters, and returning stars Portia Woodman, Ruby Tui and Tyla Nathan-Wong will be out to set the record straight.

Tui recently told Olympic Channel how the Silver Ferns are still smarting from that loss, and even used it to bring about a positive change in their team culture.

Olympic rugby sevens schedule at Tokyo 2020

All times are Japan Standard Time (GMT/UTC+9)

The competition will take place from 26-31 July.

Mon 26 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Men's Pool Round (6 matches)

16:30 - 19:30

  • Men's Pool Round (6 matches)

Tue 27 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Men's Pool Round (6 matches)

16:30 - 19:30

  • Men's Placing 9-12 (2 matches)
  • Men's Quarter-finals (4 matches)

Wed 28 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Men's Placing 11-12
  • Men's Placing 9-10
  • Men's Placing 5-8 (2 matches)
  • Men's Semi-finals (2 matches)

16:30 - 19:00

  • Men's Placing 7-8
  • Men's Placing 5-6
  • Men's Bronze Medal Match
  • Men's Gold Medal Match
  • Men's Victory Ceremony

Thu 29 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Women's Pool Round (6 matches)

16:30 - 19:30

  • Women's Pool Round (6 matches)

Fri 30 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Women's Pool Round (6 matches)

16:30 - 19:30

  • Women's Placing 9-12 (2 matches)
  • Women's Quarter-finals (4 matches)

Sat 31 July

9:00 - 12:00

  • Women's Placing 11-12
  • Women's Placing 9-10
  • Women's Placing 5-8 (2 matches)
  • Women's Semi-finals (2 matches)

16:30 - 19:00

  • Women's Placing 7-8
  • Women's Placing 5-6
  • Women's Bronze Medal Match
  • Women's Gold Medal Match

Olympic rugby sevens venue at Tokyo 2020

Rugby sevens will be hosted at enormous Tokyo Stadium, which was built in 2001 and hosted matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Football and modern pentathlon will also be hosted in this 48,000-seater arena.

Olympic rugby sevens competition format at Tokyo 2020

Twenty-four teams will take part in the Tokyo Olympics: twelve in each of the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Both competitions will see three groups of four lock horns. The top eight finishers go into the quarterfinals, followed by semis-finals, and a final. The losing semi-finalists play for the bronze medal.

One change from Rio 2016 sees a reverse in the schedule. The men's matches will take place from July 26–28, with the women's sessions being played from July 29–31, 2021. This means the women’s gold medal match will fall on ‘Super Saturday’ – traditionally a highlight of the Games.

Women's qualifiers: Japan, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Great Britain, Kenya, Fiji, China, ROC, France.

Men's qualifiers: Japan, Fiji, United States, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Kenya, South Korea, Ireland.

Olympic rugby history

The sport of rugby union appeared sporadically at the Olympics between the Paris 1900 and Paris 1924 Games in its 15-a-side format.

After a long absence, rugby sevens - which features faster action due to the extra space players have on the field - debuted at Rio 2016.

Rugby sevens was a success in Brazil, as the Fijian men won the Pacific Island’s first Olympic gold medal ever, while Australia put on an electric display to win the first women’s rugby sevens Olympic champions.