Last updated on April 19th, 2023 at 02:48 PM
The captains of the 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams competing at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 in Stellenbosch over two legs on 20-22 and 28-30 April gathered on Wednesday at Gardens Rugby Club on the slopes of the iconic Table Mountain.
Three days of intense competition of the first event at Markotter Stadium will kick-off on Thursday at 09:00 local time (GMT +2) when Belgium faces Papua New Guinea and Madagascar takes on Mexico in women’s pool F and E action respectively.
The ultimate prize at stake for the tournament winners in the women’s competition, which will be decided on aggregate points over the two events, is promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2024 as the 12th and final team.
The 12-team women’s pool draw sees Poland go up against Columbia, Hong Kong China and Paraguay in Pool D.
Poland Women’s Captain, Anna Klichowska said: “Last year we lost in the final against Japan and it was really hard for the team. But I know that now we’re stronger and I hope that we can win it this time and get to the World Series. We play a really high level of rugby and I’m sure that we will be able to compete in the World Series.”
Hosts South Africa have been drawn against Madagascar, Mexico, and Czechia in Pool E.
South Africa Women’s Captain, Mathrin Simmers said: “The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is very important for us, especially because we want to play in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and play against the best players in the world. If we win this and qualify, it will open doors for younger girls to come through and just to build women’s rugby in South Africa.”
Pool F features China, Belgium, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.
The Challenger Series was introduced in 2020 to boost rugby sevens’ development across the globe and provide a pathway for promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
The men’s Challenger Series 2020 featured two rounds, both played in South America. Japan’s men’s team gained promotion following the inaugural pair of events and, following a year break due to the global pandemic, Japan women and Uruguay men won the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2022 to earn core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.
In the men’s Challenger Series, Germany headline the men’s Pool A and are joined by Tonga, Zimbabwe and Belgium.
2022 hosts and third-place finishers, Chile, will be looking to improve from last year and go for the top spot. They will take on Hong Kong China, Papua New Guinea and Italy in Pool B.
In Pool C, Uganda are joined by Korea, Jamaica and Brazil.
The winner of the men’s competition, which will also be decided on aggregate points over the two events, will enter a four-team playoff at the HSBC London Sevens in May 2023 together with the teams placed 12th – 14th after ten rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The winner of the playoff will achieve the coveted Sevens World Series 2024 status.
Tonga Men’s Captain, Sione Tupou said: “South Africa is really beautiful and we’re very grateful to be here. Our preparation has been good and the boys are well prepared. Tonga has never played in the World Series.
So for us it’s a huge opportunity for us to win this tournament so that we can also open doors to the younger generation back at home.”