World Rugby has today (Tuesday) unveiled a new competition designed to encourage the further development of the sport’s sevens format, with the first events to take place in Chile and Uruguay.
The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will be launched in February 2020 with the goals of developing the next generation of rugby players and taking sevens to new nations in the wake of its successful Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games.
The men’s series will feature 13 core national teams from the six World Rugby regions who will compete over two rounds alongside three invitational teams.
The top eight core teams after the two rounds will then compete in the final playoff tournament for a spot in the World Rugby Sevens Series, replacing the bottom placed core team in the World Series in the following season. World Rugby said this promotion and relegation system will provide a clear and consistent development pathway for teams.
The two legs of the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will be played in Viña del Mar, Chile on February 15-16; and Montevideo, Uruguay on February 22-23.
Thirteen nations have earned their place in the Challenger Series by finishing as the top ranked nations who are not already competing in the World Rugby Sevens Series at their respective regional sevens competitions in 2019.
The teams who will compete in the 2020 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series are Brazil, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay and Zimbabwe. They will be joined by three invitational teams from the Americas in Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay.
The final playoff tournament will be hosted alongside the World Rugby Sevens Series event in Hong Kong on April 3-5.
Sevens Challenger Series teams
The top ranked nations from their regions who are not already competing in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series have qualified. Two countries from Asia are represented, Japan and Hong Kong. The 13 nations are:
- Hong Kong
- Papua New Guinea