Challenge Series reaches semis with Springboks, Tonga both shining
South Africa are on the cusp of sealing their return to the sevens circuit big-time as a productive moving day Saturday at the 2023 Challenger Series saw them progress to the semi-finals of the second weekend. The first-weekend title winners carried on their recent good form, following up a Nadine Roos-inspired 38-0 pool dismissal of Thailand with a comfortable 31-0 quarter-final success over Colombia.
Roos was exceptional, scoring six tries in total across the two matches – including five against the Thais – and the Springboks now face Czechia in the semi-finals on Sunday morning at Markotter Stadium.
They go into that fixture knowing that a semi-final win would be enough for them to clinch the all-important promotion to the revamped World Rugby series next season – provided Belgium lose their semi-final to China.
South Africa topped the tournament points board with 20 for last weekend’s first-leg title win and they are now guaranteed a minimum of 14 for reaching the second-leg semi-finals.
Runners-up Belgium have 18 from last weekend and third-place China 16 and while those two are guaranteed a minimum of 14 points for reaching this weekend’s last four, a semi-final ambush from Czechia would greatly help their qualification cause.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 29, 2023
Roos and co are in action at 10:16am local time, by which stage they will know the outcome of the other semi-final as Belgium versus China has a 9:54am start.
While the aggregate 2023 Sevens Challenger Series women’s champion will gain automatic promotion to the revamped World Rugby Sevens next season, the prize is different in the men’s section in Stellenbosch as the aggregate winner over the two weekends will proceed to a four-team playoff next month in London. That event will have a promotion place to the top tier at stake.
Tonga are currently favoured to clinch their ticket to contest that playoff as they followed up last weekend’s first-leg title success with progress to the second-leg semi-finals. The Tongans have 20 points to Germany’s 18, Belgium’s 14 and Chile’s eight following the first-leg and they go into this Sunday knowing that a semi-final win over the Germans will book their place in London.
The Pacific Islanders beat Hong Kong China 33-12 in their quarter-final with Germany seeing off Italy 21-12. On the other side of the draw, Belgium were 12-7 winners against Uganda while Chile defeated Papua New Guinea 29-17.