The 2016 Olympics in Rio sees the debut of rugby sevens at the games, with men’s and women’s tournaments taking place over six days from 6th-11th August. Three pools of four teams will be playing in each competition, representing 14 different countries in total. Let’s take a look at which nations have the best chances of winning the first ever Olympic rugby sevens title.
This shorter, quicker format of rugby requires pace and skill to win – attributes that are characteristic of the Fiji rugby team. The island country is one of the most successful nations in the history of rugby sevens and is the reigning World Rugby Sevens Series champions.
Coached by Englishman Ben Ryan, they are 2/1 favourites to win the men’s competition with many of the bookmakers (including Ladbrokes) and are odds-on to top pool A, which also contains the USA, Argentina and Brazil. Should they win, it will be the first medal of any colour that Fiji has claimed at the Olympics.
Sevens may be a new sport at the Olympics but it's the usual rugby heavyweights that make up the rest of the bookies’ favourites for the tournament. Commonwealth Games gold medallists South Africa and reigning Rugby World Cup Sevens champions New Zealand (both 5/2 with Ladbrokes), who have both been placed in pool B, are well fancied to achieve podium finishes.
The British team, consisting of players from England, Wales and Scotland, is 12/1 with Paddy Power to win gold and 7/2 with William Hill to beat New Zealand to top spot in pool C, with the two countries facing each other in the final game of the pool.
Elsewhere, Australia are 16/1 with William Hill and the USA, who won gold in 1924 when rugby union was last included in the Olympics, are 25/1 with Coral. With Carlin Isles and Perry Baker in their side, the Americans certainly have the pace to cause any opponent trouble,.
But being placed in pool A with favourites Fiji, where they are 7/1 to top the group, does not help their chances. At odds of 5/1 with Paddy Power, they could be worth backing to win a medal, though.
In the women’s tournament, it's Australia who are the favourites, with Betway offering 3/4 on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series holders to claim the gold medal, while the odds of them winning pool A are an extraordinary 1/100.
Neighbours New Zealand are not far behind at 7/4 with bet365. The three-time world series champions are 1/20 to top pool B ahead of France (10/1), Spain (25/1) and Kenya (125/1).
Pool C sees third and fourth seeds Canada and Great Britain go head to head in what looks to be the most appealing clash of the group stages. Canada have finished in the top three in all four women’s World Series tournaments and are 15/2 with bet365 to go one better in Rio and win gold.
11 of the 12 players in the Great Britain squad come from the England rugby union team that won the 2014 World Cup (beating Canada in the final), so if they can replicate their performances from there in the shorter format, a 12/5 shot on Simon Middleton’s team to win pool C offers decent value.
The medals are likely to go to three of these four countries, but if you do fancy backing an outsider, consider France. They finished fifth in the last Women’s Sevens Series and are priced at 2/1 to win a medal, although they will probably have to overcome Canada or Great Britain in the quarter-finals to do so.
It promises to be an intriguing tournament as rugby sevens makes its Olympic debut. For all the best odds on the event, visit bet365 today!