The U.S. men’s rugby sevens team had already clinched an Olympic berth before heading onto the pitch in London on Sunday.
The first two of three victories in Saturday’s pool play of the London Sevens had accomplished that, securing a spot in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The top four countries in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series lock down spots at the Olympic Games, and three of those have been confirmed: United States, Fiji and New Zealand.
Now, the USA Men’s Eagles Sevens are attempting to chase down their first season championship.
On Sunday, the U.S. topped France by a score of 31-14 to win the bronze medal in London. It marked the squad’s seventh podium finish this season, tying the total number of medals the U.S. had won in the series’ previous 19 seasons.
The U.S. is the only nation to reach all nine semifinals this season.
Entering next week’s season-ending tournament in Paris, the U.S. trails Fiji by two points in the series standings. Fiji has 164 points after winning the championship match in London against Australia, 43-7. The U.S. has 162 points.
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The Eagles entered the London Sevens three points ahead of Fiji, but lost to Fiji in Sunday’s semifinal round, 17-10.
Danny Barrett scored two tries in the win over France. Folau Niua, Maceo Brown and Stephen Tomasin each scored once.
The U.S. women will soon be joining the men among the Olympic qualifiers. The women will secure a spot in Tokyo simply by showing up for their first match in their season-ending tournament on June 15 in Biarritz, France.
The U.S. women have won medals in four of their five tournaments, are in second place with 80 points and also have a shot at a series championship entering their final stop.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.