The latticework of who-beat-who at the men's London Sevens highlights the gravity of the task facing New Zealand in their Olympic medal bid next year.

The first objective, qualification, was achieved by the All Blacks Sevens the previous weekend at Glasgow. Their planning will continue with a High Performance Sport New Zealand budget of $4.8 million across the 2013-16 Olympic cycle (their women counterparts have a $3.7 million allocation after also qualifying).

A part of this year's funding will be dedicated to gaining the intelligence required to combat the breadth of competition pervading the World Series, now it is aligned with the Games.

Let's put this a convoluted way, but one which should illustrate the point: New Zealand beat Australia, Australia beat Fiji, Fiji beat South Africa, South Africa beat Scotland, Scotland beat England, England beat New Zealand.


Those six degrees of separation sum up the extent of sevens' depth.

Add to that the fact Argentina almost beat Fiji, Samoa beat Argentina, Kenya beat Samoa and Canada beat Kenya and Samoa (in pool play). Oh, and the United States won the tournament after beating South Africa in pool play, Canada in the quarter-finals, England in the semis and Australia in the final.

Keeping up? That's 11 teams mentioned. Twelve will contest the Olympics. Not all the aforementioned will compete. A couple could get ousted via their continental qualifiers. For example, the US and Canada will likely get one spot from the North America-based conference, just as Australia and Samoa are expected to challenge for the Oceania place. However, one general international spot is also allocated at a last resort repechage tournament.

Fiji, South Africa, New Zealand and Britain (courtesy of England's fourth place) are the automatic Games qualifiers from this season's series. Brazil qualify automatically as hosts.

New Zealand coach Sir Gordon Tietjens is fully aware of the changing face of the game as other countries keep investing state funding after the sport's anointment with Olympic status. Tietjens is confident he has the resources to prevent further disappointment after missing out on the overall title for the first time in five years. That includes controlling the entry and exit of Super Rugby players and All Blacks who want to taste Olympic glory.

"Conditioning will be the biggest factor," Tietjens says. "We can only do that by training and playing regularly to be superbly sevens-fit. Some players will play a minimum of four [preview] tournaments next season; others will need up to six. It'll not necessarily be about winning next year's series, but about putting the best side out for Rio.

"A lot of Super Rugby contenders have expressed an interest. Players will have plenty of opportunities to impress, whether it's the 16 contracted [sevens] players or the 10 from outside as we build."

All Blacks Sevens captain DJ Forbes said the ideal solution was probably getting a mix of sevens and 15s players.


"We'll still need fluency and continuity in our play across the year. It's going to be a fine art to master but the players coming across are well aware of the professional demands. The fitness of sevens is far beyond 15s because we won't need big props and locks who can do a bit of crash and bash. You need athletes who cover a lot of ground at pace."

At 32, Forbes acknowledged the Olympics were his core motivation to continue.

"If I make the Olympics it'll be 10 years playing on the trot but, like anyone, I won't be taking a plane ticket for granted."

Fiji sealed their second overall World Series triumph in 16 seasons on Sunday, nine years after their last. The win boosts the country's hopes of attaining their first Olympic medal next year.

The All Blacks Sevens side have won 12 of the series which began in 1999-00.

Andrew Alderson is at the London Sevens with assistance from New Zealand Rugby.