In August, 24 men’s and women’s teams will compete for the chance to join the core teams on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
In July, it was announced that the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will return in 2022 following a one-year absence due to the pandemic.
Subsequently the current line-up of core teams for 2023 was confirmed when it was revealed that Great Britain would compete on the Series, in place of individual teams from England, Scotland and Wales.
It means that the teams heading to Chile next month know exactly what they need to do to join them on the start lines in Hong Kong and Dubai at the end of the year.
To make sure that you are up to speed as well, we provide the lowdown on the 2022 Challenger Series below.
What is the World Rugby Challenger Series?
Launched in February 2020 to boost the development of rugby sevens across the globe, the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series acts as a promotion pathway for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
This year’s Challenger Series is being held as a one-off combined event that will feature 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams representing each of the six World Rugby regions. Those teams qualified for August’s tournament via regional competitions.
The tournament replicates the Olympic Games competition format, with the 12 teams drawn into three pools. The top two from each as well as the two best third-placed finishers will qualify for the knockout stages.
How many teams will qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023?
Two. The winners of the women’s and men’s 2022 Challenger Series will take their place among the core teams on the 2023 Series.
Where and when will it be played?
The 2022 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is scheduled to be played at Estadio Santa Laura in Santiago, Chile between 12-14 August.
Estadio Santa Laura played host to Chile’s men’s 15s defeat to Scotland A in June and their Rugby World Cup 2023 Americas 2 play-off first leg match against the USA in July.
Which teams are taking part?
Hosts Chile will compete against Korea, Papua New Guinea and Georgia in Pool A. Pool B will consist of Hong Kong, Tonga, Jamaica and Zimbabwe, while Pool C contains Germany, Uruguay, Uganda and Lithuania.
In the women’s event, Chile are in Pool D alongside China, Kenya and South Africa. European nations Poland and Belgium have been drawn in Pool E with Argentina and Papua New Guinea.
Pool F, meanwhile, features Japan, Kazakhstan, Colombia and Mexico.
Have any of those teams played on the Series before?
Yes. Chile’s men have appeared on the Series as an invitational side, most recently at the tournaments in Vancouver and Edmonton in 2021.
Korea, Hong Kong, Tonga, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Germany, Uruguay and Uganda all have Series experience as well.
China and Japan were each previously core teams on the women’s Series and have also appeared at the Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, South Africa, Poland, Belgium, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Colombia, Kenya and Mexico have all appeared in at least one Series tournament.
Will any of these teams feature at Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022?
South Africa, who qualified for RWC Sevens 2022 as hosts, are one of five women’s teams who will compete in both Santiago and Cape Town.
Poland, Colombia, Japan and China all secured their passage to the showpiece tournament, that will take place between 9-11 September, via regional qualifying tournaments.
Of the teams taking part in the men’s Challenger Series, Germany, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Chile, Uruguay, Tonga, Korea and Hong Kong have all also qualified for RWC Sevens 2022.
Each of those teams will be in action on day one in Cape Town, with Hong Kong drawn to face Uruguay and Germany taking on Chile in the men’s pre-round of 16.
What have people said about the Challenger Series?
Gissel Castañeda – Chile women’s captain: “The Challenger is a unique opportunity to play matches with teams that have a lot of experience in the Series, as we always play with teams from South and Central America.
“Playing in your country, being at home, gives you extra energy, motivation. Having the family watching the games is going to be very nice, a great experience.”
Julio Blanc – experienced Chile men's player: "Chilean rugby is living a unique moment. If we become a Series core team it will be a big achievement for [Cóndores coach] Pablo Lemoine. We have a new team with experienced players and hopefully playing at home will gives us a plus. From what I know, the support will be huge.”
Sebastián Mejía Gil – Colombia women’s coach: “We have a style of play that allows us to have goals, big goals. We want to win our group – for Colombian rugby to come out and compete, to get closer to the second tier in the world, playing tough, entertaining games, showing a lot of ambition.”
Guillermo Lijtenstein – Uruguay men’s vice-captain: “Our focus is on being able to put Uruguay in the Series. It's the big goal... For a squad that has been working so hard, qualifying would mean competing with the top sevens teams, the Formula 1 of rugby sevens. It would be incredible.”
World Rugby Chief Competitions and Performance Officer Nigel Cass said: “The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is a vital component of our ambitious plans to develop the sport further across the globe, and with the prize of promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 at stake for the winners, the competition across the three-day event will be intense from start to finish.
“Rugby sevens is a key driver of global growth for our sport, particularly in emerging nations, and it firmly remains a top priority for World Rugby. Following the highly impactful Olympic competition in Tokyo last year, which caught the imagination of many new fans worldwide, the short format game continues to expand and captivate audiences with its dynamic, skillful and exciting nature.
“We thank the Federación de Rugby de Chile for their partnership in delivering this important event for the first time since the inaugural event in 2020, and we are working very closely together to ensure a high performance environment for players and teams to showcase their talents.”
Federación de Rugby de Chile President Cristian Rudloff said: “As Chile Rugby we are very proud of the confidence that World Rugby places in us again for the realisation of a world mega event. This is undoubtedly a result of the serious and professional work that we have developed in the last three years. As a country, we are preparing to receive our guests with our usual warmth, and we are preparing to have a world sports festival.
“The dispute for promotion to the World Series will be the maximum motivation for athletes who also dream of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“We will continue to work so that all rugby players in Chile have the opportunity to experience first-hand the best World Rugby events, such as the men's sevens Condors playing the Challenger Series again, and it makes us tremendously proud that our female Condors also have the opportunity to compete at the highest international level.”