World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 Schedule Confirmed – Stellenbosch Hosts
The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 schedule has been confirmed with two three-day tournaments including the women and men due to take place at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa from 20-22 and 28-30 April 2023.
Updated 19 April 2023
The Challenger Series provides a promotion pathway to the new Sevens World Series from the end of 2023 (with the new host venues still to be confirmed) in a new format.
World Rugby confirmed that the Sevens Challenger Series 2023 will take place back to back in Stellenbosch, South Africa on 20-22 and 28-30 April with 12-team men’s and women’s competitions.
World Rugby confirmed that “the teams qualified via their ranking positions within their relevant regional competitions and the pool draw will take place once the full team line-ups are confirmed in early 2023.”
World Rugby Chief Competitions and Performance Officer Nigel Cass said: “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 achieve their dreams and reach the pinnacle level of international rugby sevens through their efforts in the Challenger Series.
The choice to host consecutive weekends in Stellenbosch was based on performance and sustainability factors and we look forward to working closely in partnership with the South Africa Rugby Union to deliver a high-quality performance environment for players and teams to showcase their talents.”
Sevens Challenger Series 2023 Women Pools
There are 12 women’s teams competing and in what has come as a surprise, three Asian teams are represented – Asia Rugby and most of the Unions playing the Asia Rugby Sevens Series seemed to indicate that only the top two from the ARSS 2022 would proceed and with Japan not being counted as they are on the World Series this season.
So China, who won the ARSS 2022, Thailand who finished third behind Japan, as well as the Hong Kong ladies will be competing in South Africa.
The 12 women’s teams playing at the Challenger Series 2023 are:
- Hong Kong China* – Hong Kong China Sevens Teams Confirmed For Challenger Series 2023
Poland Women’s Captain, Anna Klichowska said: “Last year we lost in the final against Japan and it was really hard for the team. But I know that now we’re stronger and I hope that we can win it this time and get to the World Series. We play a really high level of rugby and I’m sure that we will be able to compete in the World Series.”
*As of March 2023, Hong Kong China Women are without a permanent Head Coach after Iain Monaghan left the role to join Rugby Canada – The Women played at the Hong Kong Sevens 2023 for the first time and HKRU Programme Lead Paul John is in temporary charge as Women’s Head Coach.
Paul said “Our preparation has been good this week. The girls are a bit nervous and excited at the same time, but
it is great to have both of our men’s and women’s programs competing in the Challenger Series for the
first time. We have to play without hesitation. It’s going to be challenging but the girls are in a good space and ready to get stuck into it.”
HK China Women’s Squad:
Natasha OLSON-THORNE (Co-Capt); Melody LI Nim-yan (Co-Capt.); Maggie AU YEUNG Sin-Yi; Micayla BALTAZAR; Chloe BALTAZAR; Chloe CHAN; CHAN Chor-ki, Stephanie; CHONG Ka-yan; Shanna FORREST; Jessica HO Wai-on; NAM Ka-man; Gabriella RIVERS; Georgia RIVERS; SO Yee-kei,Cherly; TSE Wing-kiu, Agnes; Rosanna WRIGHT.
- South Africa
South Africa Women’s Captain, Mathrin Simmers added: “The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series is very important for us, especially because we want to play in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and play against the best players in the world. If we win this and qualify, it will open doors for younger girls to come through and just to build women’s rugby in South Africa.”
- Papua New Guinea
Thailand Women’s Squad:
See above – The Thai women appointed former SA Women’s 7s Head Coach Paul Delport on a short-term contract for April only and some of the squad have been in South Africa for weeks preparing, while others were part of the team that won the SEA 7s 2023 in Singapore in April and joined the team in SA thereafter.
Arguably their star player, Jirawan Chutrakun didn’t play the SEA 7s and won’t be in SA after signing with a Japanese club Prism Fukuoka.
Panpassa Jaijarim, Laksina Nawakaew, Thanachporn Wandee, Jeeraporn Peerabunanon, Rattanaporn Wittayaronnayut, Nunchadtaporn Yodya, Passon Jaengjob, Darin Jantamala, Uthumporn Lianrat, Jutathip Yimyaem, Narathip Naneesai, Thanaporn Huankid, Salinda Phaekhwamdee.
China Women’s Squad:
Wang Rui, Yan Meiling (c), Wang Xiao, Yang Feifei, Lyu Hewen, Chen Keyi, Zhou Yan, Liao Jiul, Gu Yaoyao, Liu Xiaoqian, Hu Yu, Yang Danxu, Gao Yueying
Sevens Challenger Series 2023 Men Pools
The winner of the men’s Challenger Series, which will also feature 12 teams, will enter a four-team playoff 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 – this had been confirmed at the HK Sevens 2022.
The winner of the playoff will achieve core Sevens World Series 2024 status.
Only the top two men’s teams from the ARSS 2022 will feature at the Sevens Challenger Series 2023.
The 12 men teams are:
Tonga Men’s Captain, Sione Tupou said: “South Africa is really beautiful and we’re very grateful to be here. Our preparation has been good and the boys are well prepared. Tonga has never played in the World Series. So for us, it’s a huge opportunity for us to win this tournament so that we can also open doors to the younger generation back at home.”
- Hong Kong China**
- Papua New Guinea
HK China Men’s Squad:
Twelve of the 13-man squad set for Stellenbosch are from the side that won the Shield at the Hong Kong Stadium earlier this month at the Sevens. Head Coach Jevon Groves added “The setting here is fantastic and we have had some really good training sessions this week. The travel was quite long so we have been slowly building up to it but we are in a good place now.”
Max WOODWARD (Capt.); Seb BRIEN; James CHRISTIE; Michael COVERDALE; Max DENMARK; Liam HERBERT; Callum McCULLOUGH; Alex McQUEEN; Pierce MACKINLAY-WEST; MAK Kwai-chung; Alessandro NARDONI; Harry SAYERS; Hugo STILES; Russell WEBB; Salom YIU Kam-shing.
**The Hong Kong 7s men were in action at the HK Sevens and Singapore Sevens as well as the Borneo 7s before heading to South Africa.
- South Korea
South Korea Men’s Squad
The South Korean Men’s team is in South Africa without their Head Coach. In another surprise coaching move in Asia, it’s been reported that South African Charlie Louw left his Head Coach role of the 7s and XVs and returned to a role at the Japanese Ryutsu Keizai University. Lee Myung Geun is the interim head coach of Men.
(Apologies for any incorrect spelling – this is taken from the South Korea Rugby Union FB).
Match Schedule – Asian National 7s Teams – Challenger Series 2023 #Round 1
The link for the live stream of the Challenger 7s Series matches is here – There are two playing fields A&B so check the fixtures list for the right field!
Thursday 20 April 2023 (Indochina Times GMT+7)
- Pool C – China 12-0 Thailand (14:22) Women
- Pool C – South Korea 12-19 Jamaica (15:06) Men
- Pool B – Hong Kong China 26-5 PNG (15:06) Men
- Pool A – Hong Kong China 12-15 Colombia (16:22) Women
- Pool C – Thailand 0-19 Belgium (17:16) Women
- Pool C – China 46-0 PNG (17:38) Women
- Pool C – South Korea 5-17 Brazil (18:10) Men
- Pool B – Hong Kong China 22-17 Italy (18:10) Men
- Pool A – Hong Kong China 0-31 Poland (19:46) Women
Friday 21st April 2023 (Indochina Times GMT+7)
- Pool C – Thailand vs PNG (14:00) Women
- Pool C – China vs Belgium (14:22) Women
- Pool A – Hong Kong China vs Paraguay (14:22) Women
- Pool C – South Korea vs Uganda (15:38) Men
- Pool B – Hong Kong China vs Chile (16:10) Men
World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 Format
The tournament replicates the Olympic Games competition format, with the 12 teams drawn into three pools of four.
The top two from each as well as the two best third-placed finishers will qualify for the knockout stages with quarter-finals and semi-finals leading to the bronze and gold medal matches.
SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said: “We are very grateful to have the opportunity to host the two Challenger Series tournaments next year.
“The improvement across the board in Sevens Rugby over the last few years, and the competitiveness between all teams, makes for a superb product and we can’t wait to deliver these tournaments in Stellenbosch.”
Challenger 7s Series 2023 Match Officials
World Rugby confirmed the Emirates World Rugby Match Official appointments for the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 on February 28th. A total of 12 match officials representing 10 nations will take charge of the men’s and women’s events in April 2023, which includes Ano Kuwai (JRFU) for the Women’s tournaments.
World Rugby High-Performance Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said: “The match officials selected represent an exciting group of referees who have a bright future in international rugby as we build towards Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028, and I would like to wish them all the best over the two weeks in Stellenbosch.”
World Rugby High-Performance Women’s Referee Manager Alhambra Nievas added: “Over the course of the two weeks, the selected match officials will have the opportunity to experience the on-and-off field requirements of being an international referee, including physical and technical sessions, mental preparedness, fitness, team cohesion and decision making.”
Women´s Challenger 7s 2023 – Match Officials
- Precious Pazani (ZRU)
- Jess Ling (RA)
- Ano Kuwai (JRFU)
- Doriane Domenjo (FFR)
- Giana Viljoen (SARU)
- Zoe Naude (SARU)
Men´s Challenger 7s 2023 – Match Officials
- David Vosalevu (Fiji)
- Evan Urruzmendi (FFR)
- Cauã Ricardo (Brazil)
- Robin Kaluzniak (RC)
- Morgan White (HKRU)
- Peter Martin (IRFU)
World Rugby 7s Challenger Series 2024
In addition, it was confirmed that the 2024 Challenger Series is expected to increase to three rounds and the top four ranked teams will enter a play-off with the bottom four placed Sevens World Series at a Grand Finale event.
This means that four men’s and four women’s teams will have the opportunity to achieve promotion to the pinnacle level of international rugby sevens every year from 2024 onwards.
Rugby Sevens News
- Chinese Women’s Sevens Rugby Aiming For A Strong 2023.
- Japanese Sakura 7s Wakaba Hara – Try Scoring Machine.
- Hong Kong Sevens Men Set Target For 2023 Tournaments
- Nolli Waterman and Bryan Habana – Taking Opportunities In all Walks of Life.