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Tough group in Paris for All Blacks Sevens

NZ Sevens Paris Olympics sevens rugby
NZ Sevens veterans (from left) Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, Scott Curry, Tyla Nathan-Wong, Theresa Fitzpatrick, Regan Ware and Sarah Hirini will play at their third Olympics in Paris. PHOTO: NZ SEVENS

The All Blacks Sevens team's path to a first Olympics gold medal will be a tough one in Paris.


The silver medallists from Tokyo three years ago, the ABs Sevens have been drawn with Ireland, South Africa and Japan in Pool A for the men's sevens tournament at the Paris Olympics.


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New Zealand finished third during the 2023-24 World Sevens Series - winning two titles and reaching the semifinals five times - and fourth at the Grand Finals tournament.


Ireland also played in five semifinals, reaching one final, to finish second during the regular season and fifth at the Grand Finals, while South Africa won one tournament, finished sixth at the Grand Finals and qualified for Paris by defeating Great Britain in the final of the final Olympic qualifying tournament last month.


Japan finished ninth on the World Seven Challenger Series but qualified for Paris by winning the Asian qualifying tournament last November.


The ABs Sevens open on Wednesday, July 24 against Japan (4am Thursday NZT) and South Africa (9.30am Thursday NZT), before facing Ireland the following day (2.30am Friday NZT).


All Blacks Sevens Black Ferns Sevens
The All Blacks Sevens (left) and Black Ferns Sevens groups for the Paris Olympics group stage.

The Black Ferns Sevens will be joined by Fiji, Canada and China in Pool A for the women's tournament at Stade de France.


New Zealand topped the Women's World Sevens Series, winning four tournaments, but finished third at the Grand Finals in Madrid.


Canada reached the quarterfinals at all eight tournaments, including four semifinals appearances, finishing fifth, while Fiji reached the semifinals once, sitting sixth overall. China won the Women's World Sevens Challenger Series and qualified for the top-tier in 2024-25, before winning the final Olympic qualifying tournament.


The first two days of the men's tournament will take place before the opening ceremony on Friday, July 26, with medals decided the following day. The women's tournament follows immediately after, from July 28-30.

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