Sweden Ladies will now apparently take part in the Olympic qualifying in 10 days time in Russia. But wait a minute, didn´t Sweden come 5th in the Trophy last week and only two would qualify? No information as usual from Rugby Europe whom I have often described as one of the world´s most incompetent sporting organisations (remember the appalling mismanagement of the Olympics in 2016?).
What has obviously happened is as follows: originally the set-up was 9 teams from the Championship, 2 from the Trophy and 1 from the Conference. Now the Championship only had 10 eligible teams (Scotland and Wales are not Olympic nations). But obviously three of the weaker nations, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ukraine have said they are not interested in making up the numbers. That leaves 7 who will all participate: France, Russia, Spain, Ireland, England, Poland and Italy
That leaves 5 places which now gives the Trophy 4 participants. The top 2 are Germany and Romania and that leaves places for the 3rd and 4th teams, Czechia and Finland. Finland also appears to have said “no thank you” and that leaves 5th-placed Sweden who have accepted. Moldova from the Conference make up the numbers. To rearrange all this ten days before a major tournament is of course unacceptable but this is the incompetent way European rugby is run. They must have known weeks ago that several countries weren´t interested in continuing qualifying, especially with only the winner going directly to Tokyo in 2020. But once again they do not want to lose face vis-à-vis the Olympic movement.
Should Sweden have accepted the offer? One would hope it doesn´t cost the Union a penny; they are in the same group as Russia and England (representing GB) and will probably end up playing Moldova for last place. Sweden can however claim to the Swedish Olympic Committee that they got through to the second round of Olympic qualifying and hope that the Committee doesn´t work out how they got there.