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‘Very excited’: South Africa to host World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Stephen Law/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

Stellenbosch, South Africa, will play host to the third installment of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023, which features a pair of combined men’s and women’s events taking place at Markotter Stadium on 20-22 and 28-30 April 2023.

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The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series replicates the Olympic Games format, which sees the 12 men and women’s teams drawn into three pools of four. The top two from each pool, as well as the two best third-placed finishers will qualify for the knockout stages. The quarter finals and semi-final matches will lead to the bronze and gold medal matches.

The 12-team women’s pool draw sees Poland go up against Columbia, Hong Kong China and Paraguay in Pool D.

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Hosts South Africa have been drawn against Madagascar, Mexico, and Czechia in Pool E.

Pool F features China, Belgium, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.

The winner of the women’s competition will secure an automatic entry to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens World Series 2024.

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.

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In Pool C, Uganda are joined by Korea, Jamaica and Brazil.

The winner of the men’s competition will enter a four-team play-off 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 play-off will achieve the coveted Sevens World Series 2024 status.

World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series Director, Cian Twomey said: “The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is a vitally important tournament that provides meaningful competition and a clear promotion pathway to reach the pinnacle HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.”

“We introduced the series in February 2020 with the aim of boosting the global development of rugby sevens and we’re proud to see the 2022 champions, Uruguay men and Japan women, currently playing competitively in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.”

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Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby said: “The growth of sevens across the globe has been phenomenal over the last few years and we are very excited to host the Challenger Series here in South Africa over the next few weeks.

“The inclusion of Rugby Sevens on the Olympic Games schedule since 2016 has been a great driver for the game. We’ve also seen the levels of competition on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series reach new highs and this will definitely have an impact on the quality on offer at the Challenger Series events.

“Best of luck to all the teams, but especially to our Springbok Women’s Sevens team who will be aiming for a spot as a core team on the World Series, and to also book their spot to Paris in 2024.”

The competition will kick-off on 20 April at 09:00 local time (GMT +2) when Belgium take on Papua New Guinea in the women’s Pool F, while Madagascar go up against Mexico in Pool E.

– Press release/World Rugby

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finn 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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