Every Women's Sevens World Series event has its ramifications, but this season carries extra importance.
As the WWS kicks off this weekend LIVE on FloRugby from Glendale, CO, every team is in with a shot at winning on Sunday, and winning the World Series as a whole. Many know they can also lose the series if things don't go right.
Consider New Zealand's loss to the USA in the quarterfinals of last season's opener in Dubai. That loss cost the Black Ferns at least two points in the standings, likely more, and they lost the entire series by ... two points, 92 to 90.
That's the sort of pressure one came can bring. But this year, there's something else:
Yes, those lovely, lovely rings. The top four teams in the World Series will garner automatic qualification to the 2020 Olympic Sumer Games in Tokyo. This means much for the qualifiers, because they don't have to spend additional effort and resources going through the regional qualification process. And remember, only one team per continent qualifies.
We'll have the top four, plus hosts Japan, and then only one team each from Asia, Europe, South America, Oceania, Africa, and North America. If neither Canada nor USA make the top four this season, one of those teams is staying home in 2020.
Same story for England (Great Britain) and France.
So, you see, there's a lot riding on everything.