The road to Tokyo goes through Monaco for French Sevens rugby.
The Olympic qualifying tournament (TQO) takes place Saturday and Sunday in the Principality.
At stake: a ticket to the Games for a men's team and two for a women's team, which will join the best nations already qualified automatically on the basis of their results in the world circuit.
In these two TQOs, the France team has a good card to play.
With the objective of qualifying the two teams, as in Rio in 2016.
On the women's side, the French will challenge Colombia and Madagascar on Saturday, then Hong Kong on Sunday morning, in Pool C. The final stages will take place on Sunday from 2:55 p.m.
Les Bleues, notably Caroline Drouin and Jade Ulutule who we had seen sharp with the XV of France in the last Women's Six Nations Tournament, will have to reach the final to see Tokyo.
Read also: Deux Bleues deliver the secrets of rugby sevens
On the men's side, the final victory in this TQO is imperative for the players of Jérôme Daret, who had failed in the direct qualification against England in 2019. The Blues will play in a pool a priori easy, with Jamaica and Chile on Saturday, then Hong Kong on Sunday morning.
The match against Uganda has already been won because the African team has just withdrawn due to the Covid case.
The final phase, Sunday from 4 p.m., will be more complicated against the best of the second pool, with Ireland, Samoa or Tonga.
Especially since they will not have the right to make mistakes since only the winner of the TQO will qualify for the Olympics.
The precious reinforcement of Gabin Villière
But the Blues start favorites with the return of the Toulon winger and the XV of France, Gabin Villière. “It was the VII that propelled Gabin to the highest level,” recalls Jérôme Daret. He was the best player in the Hong Kong tournament. He's legitimate, he's been part of the Olympic project from the start, gets along well with everyone. It's good that players who have gone through the XV are there (Jean-Pascal Barraque or Marvin O'Connor are also former Quinzists), it puts pressure on others. And if we pass this TQO, it shows our ambition, we will not be there to make up the figure. "
Before, it will be necessary to cross the obstacle of the TQO in this Louis-II stadium which will be able to accommodate 5,000 spectators.
A taste of the Olympics for this spectacular sport, which offers short (two 7-minute periods) and intense matches with lots of tries and speed.
“Personally, I've been waiting for this for three years, I signed to VII for this kind of moment,” explains Marvin O'Connor.
We must not be feverish and show that we deserve our place at the Olympics.
We are the best ranked team of this TQO on the world circuit, we were sixth before the end of the competitions.
So we are one of the favorites.
But the VII is going so fast, two missed tackles and it's 14-0 and it's hard to come back.
We will have to be very strong collectively and individually.
We are all ready to qualify the France team for the Olympics.