As a result of World Rugby announcing the specifications of the Challenger Series for the next year, Hong Kong’s sevens teams have been given a variety of routes to the top echelon of the sport that are equally demanding despite their differences.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will need to win their respective 12-team tournaments in South Africa in April. However, the men’s team will then have to compete in an additional play-off in London during the month of May.

Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch will serve as the host venue for the series, which will consist of combined three-day events that will take place on April 20, April 22, and April 28–30.

A team from South America will compete against the women’s team from Hong Kong, as well as Belgium, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Madagascar, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, and the Czech Republic.

The victor of the women’s competition will be granted entrance for the Sevens World Series 2024 without having to compete again.

A play-off will be held for the men’s team that wins the series event in South Africa. This play-off will take place in the HSBC London Sevens the following month. This will be an additional challenge on the way to the top tier.

After 10 rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the teams ranked 12th through 14th will compete in this minor event. The victor of the play-off will earn a spot in the Sevens World Series 2024.

In order for Hong Kong to arrive in London, it will initially be required to travel through the countries of Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

According to Nigel Cass, the chief competitions and performance officer for World Rugby, “The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is a critical tournament for the continued development of international rugby sevens around the globe.”

“Rugby sevens is a key driver of global growth for our sport, particularly in emerging nations, and it continues to expand and captivate audiences with its dynamic, skilful, and exciting nature. This growth has been boosted by its highly impactful and successful appearances at the Olympic Games in Rio and Tokyo.”

“The Challenger Series provides a clear pathway to reach the Sevens World Series,” and teams from all six World Rugby regions have the opportunity to realize their goals and compete at the highest level of international rugby sevens by virtue of their performance in the Challenger Series. “The Sevens World Series” is considered to be the pinnacle level of international rugby sevens.

The event follows the same structure as the competitions in the Olympic Games, with the 12 teams being divided into three pools of four each. The top two finishers in each group, as well as the top two third-placed competitors, will advance to the knockout stages of the competition, where they will compete in quarterfinals, semifinals, and ultimately the bronze and gold medal matches.
The Challenger Series was initiated in February of 2020 with the purpose of fostering the growth of rugby sevens all over the world and offering a distinct stepping stone to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which is the highest level of competition in the sport.

After leading the cumulative rankings from the two rounds held in Chile and Uruguay in 2020, Japan emerged victorious in the men’s competition to claim the title of first-ever champions. Due to the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic, the first women’s tournament that was scheduled to take place in Stellenbosch in March 2020 had to be postponed.
After a hiatus of one year, the Challenger Series resumed competition in August 2022 with a stand-alone combined event that was held in Santiago, Chile. The men’s competition was won by Uruguay, and the women’s competition was won by Japan. Both teams were awarded promotion to the most recent iteration of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

In 2024, the Challenger Series is projected to increase to three rounds, and the top four ranked teams will enter a play-off with the bottom four placed Sevens World Series teams at a Grand Finale event. This will result in four men’s and four women’s teams having the opportunity to achieve promotion to the highest level of international rugby sevens competition every year beginning in 2024 and moving forward.

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