Team GB Men miss out on Olympic Games qualification

Defeat to South Africa in Repecharge Final in Monaco means no involvement at Paris 2024

No happy ending for Great Britain captain Robbie Fergusson. Image: World Rugby
No happy ending for Great Britain captain Robbie Fergusson. Image: World Rugby

GREAT BRITAIN will not be represented in the Olympic Games men’s sevens after the team were pipped in the final tie of the this afternoon’s repechage tournament in Monaco.

The British team, captained by Scot Robbie Fergusson and featuring his compatriots Ross McCann, who will join Edinburgh for the new season, Max McFarland and Kaleem Barreto, faced South Africa in the final of the repechage tournament yesterday after both nations had failed to secure automatic qualification through the season-long world series.

But it was heartbreak for the GB team who put everything on the line in a tense final with the ‘Blitzboks’ before going down 14-5, and now find themselves out of the world’s top 16 teams – Ireland are there – who will compete for Olympics gold in Paris next month.

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GB did what was required yesterday with three straight pool wins, beating China 35-19 and Uganda 29-5, with Barreto and McFarland among the try scorers, and Fergusson and Barreto adding conversions. However, they had a nervy final tie before overcoming Canada 17-12, when McCann was yellow carded with two minutes to go which set up a late onslaught on the GB line. But GB held on for the win.

South Africa breezed through their pool ties, beating Mexico 44-0, Tonga 31-7 and Chile 26-7, to claim top seed spot, and with GB second seeds that meant the two nations would not meet until the final.

Both GB and South Africa were in fine form today, GB disposing of Tonga comfortably in the quarter-finals, 33-0 – Barreto scoring again – while the Blitzboks defeated Uganda 26-0, to set up semi-final ties with Spain and Canada respectively.

South Africa cruised into the final with a 28-0 win over Canada, but GB were made to work for their final spot by the Spanish who bounced back from losing two early tries, McFarland and Alex Davis touching down, with a try from Enrique Bolinches. GB hit back again through Harry Glover with two minutes to go and despite a late Spain try from Jeremy Trevithick, they again held on for victory and that vital final spot.

It was clear that the Boks had had a slicker progression to the final and were undoubtedly favourites for their try-scoring feats, and they duly started the final on the front foot, claiming restarts and turning over GB ball.

Just a few minutes in, with the GB resolute, the Boks put ball to foot and Quewin Nortje raced in for the final’s first try off a kick in behind GB. The Boks came close to a second, but good GB defence kept them out and the British team dominated the rest of the half before Fergusson finally got over in the right-hand corner.

Barreto almost converted from the touchline, but his kick came back off a post, and just when GB squad and suppoerters began to dream of Paris, the Boks swiftly turned joy to pain on the restart when, picking up a loose ball and Shilton van Wyk streaked away from halfway for a second try, again converted, for a 14-5 half-time lead.

GB defended superbly to deny the Boks on several occasions in the second half but they couldn’t get near the South African line, and when they did at the death they were penalised for a knock-on and their last chance of a score, and reaching the Olympic Games, was gone.


The two draws are listed below:



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About David Ferguson 26 Articles
David Ferguson has covered Scottish rugby for over 30 years. Starting out in the Borders with the Berwickshire News and Southern Reporter, where he was sports editor and also covered rugby for a wide variety of national newspapers, Radio Borders and BBC Scotland, David became editor of Scottish Rugby Magazine, working with then Managing Director Sean Lineen. David was then Chief Rugby Writer with The Scotsman for 14 years, during which time he covered club, professional and international rugby, including several Rugby World Cups and Lions tours. He started his own communications and media business in 2014, and has worked across a wide range of areas from Scottish and UK government to charities and corporate business, most recently as Chief Executive of the Observatory for Sport in Scotland, Scotland's only research think tank on sport.


  1. Glad they lost. Let’s bin this aberration and get Scotland back on the circuit. The GB globetrotters can come back as a Lions-type outfit for an Olympic year side-show to the main team on the Sevens circuit, presuming we re-qualify!

  2. Kyle Steyn, Kyle Rowe and George Horne all developed through the Scotland 7s before they turned pro, and have now won the URC League. Closing the 7s pathway in Scotland was always a mistake.

    • When the game turned Pro in 1995 Scotland were caught napping and had little resource for pro rugby and certainly not a Sevens team.Jim Telfer withdrew Scotland 7 from the International Invitation circuit and. Asked us at Rugby Ecosse, privately funded group of 7s enthusiasts to take over the invitations. We played in the Paris 7s and Jerusalem 7s Singapore7s and several others, but eventually it became obvious at Murrayfield that they were out of step with the other leading nations and Roy Laidlaw coached and led the Scotland 7s team for a few years with some success. Rugby Ecosse developed the Women’s seven as Rugby Ecosse Feminin and won the 1st Women’s Dubai International 7s in 2005 and many others since, so the talent is there in Scotland, it just needs the cash and the will to do it

      • Great to hear from Terry. As an ex player with Terrys 7s squad. What great memories I have from playing with different players from around the world on the 7s circuit. You don’t realise how much you learn from other players while you’re enjoying yourself at the same time.
        With all the over coaching thats happening playing 7s is great for your mental health. ( just play )
        The only reason the 7s failed under the SRU was because like many other things wrong people in the wrong coaching positions.
        What’s wrong with travelling the world, playing 7s and having a few pints.

  3. The SRU have never properly explained this decision. No Super Series. Inter District may not go ahead next season. A team plans sketchy at best. Reinstating our sevens programmes seems like a no brainer to everyone but the SRU. How else are a sizeable number of our younger players going to get this level of experience.

    • From memory it was cost and performance. We were bottom of the heap before we left.

      Agree 7s is a great development pathway but we need to cut out cloth accordingly.

  4. So we have binned off a legitimate pathway to the International XV side to have it completely neglected by those in charge. 2nd in 2016, 4th in 2020, DNQ in 2024. If that doesn’t demonstrate that the program is severely underfunded and overlooked then I don’t know what does.

    England and Wales have never leaned on 7s to feed into the National team, the former has an entire league and the latter 4 has pro teams to give players experience. Let them run their programs into the ground if they want. Scotland have good 7s potential coming through, with a youth Commmonwealth Games gold medal last year. Do we really want to hand these promising players over to an uninspiring system which has fallen out of the top 16?

    If we are going to keep persisting with a 2 pro team model, and we are removing the semi-professional tier to sit above the amateur game, we need to get our 7s program back up and running.

    • Agree on 7s but also worth saying club rugby was semi pro before S6. Wrong to think it was amateur. Top tier was entirely semi pro and a fair way down the league system there were players and coaches being laid to train extra etc.

      • Paid…..just to clarify not claiming anyone was getting laid to train extra!!! May solve the participation crisis tho ….

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