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Cheetahs confirmed for World Rugby Challenger Series


ZIMBABWE has been named among the 12 men’s teams who will feature in the two-legged World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 set for South Africa next year.

World Rugby yesterday announced the details of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 which will take place at the Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa on the weekends of April 20-22 and April 28-30, 2023.

Zimbabwe, whose sevens side is popularly known as the Cheetahs will be joined in by Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Jamaica, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Uganda.

The winner of the  Challenger Series will enter a four-team play-off at the HSBC London Sevens in May 2023 together with the teams placed 12th-14th after 10 rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The winner of the play-off will earn promotion to the Sevens World Series 2024 — the pinnacle of international rugby sevens.

Zimbabwe qualified for the World Rugby Challenger Series by virtue of having finished as the runners ups during the Rugby Africa's Sevens tournament which was held in Uganda.

The Cheetahs finished eighth out of 12 participating nations at the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Chile four months ago which leaves them with a lot of work to do to finish in the top four next season.

Cheetahs head coach Graham Kaulback, admitted that his side faces an uphill task to secure promotion to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.

 “It’s obviously going to become more difficult to qualify for the World Series but I think World Rugby has plans to grow the Challenger Series into a prominent circuit,” Kaulback said in an interview with our sister paper The Standard recently.

“The Challenger Series will now be even more challenging than it is already, which is great for us and hopefully we can get more exposure by playing more tournaments there.”

Kaulback said his main target remains to help the team to secure core status on the World Series and qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games qualifiers will be played next year at a venue yet to be confirmed by World Rugby.

“Obviously, we have high aspirations of qualifying for the main World Series and the Olympic Games. We will keep pushing to achieve those two main goals but even below that the Challenger Series will become a milestone in itself and the standard there will be very high,” he said.

The Challenger Series was introduced in February 2020 to boost the development of rugby sevens across the globe and provide a clear promotion pathway to reach the pinnacle HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

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