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Rugby's back, and U.S. sending men's, women's teams to 2016 Olympic Games

Rugby's back, and U.S. sending men's, women's teams to 2016 Olympic Games
Members of the U.S. Rugby 'sevens' team train at the Olympic training facility in San Diego on May 28. Both the men's team and the women's team will compete in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. (Mark Ralston / Getty Images)

Rugby is returning to the Olympics for the first time in almost a century, and the U.S. will be sending a men's and women's team.

The Americans qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games with victories this weekend at the continental qualifying championships in North Carolina.

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"I'm so excited about what lies ahead on this journey," men's Coach Mike Friday said.

His team defeated Canada 21-5 to secure a place in the Games. The women earned their spot with an 88-0 win over Mexico.

"It's like base camp climbing up Mount Everest," Coach Ric Suggitt said. "We're there now. Now we know where we have to be in August of 2016. That's what we have 14 months to prepare for."

The last time rugby was played at the Olympics, in 1924, the U.S. won gold in a field of only three nations. That was a 15-player format. Now teams will play "sevens" with smaller rosters.

Follow David Wharton on Twitter @LATimesWharton.

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