Cheetahs primed for revamped World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series

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Cheetahs players in a huddle during the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Chile four months ago

Zimbabwe will have a busier international rugby sevens schedule next year following the addition of the two-legged World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 to their already packed calendar.

The Cheetahs, as the Zimbabwe side is popularly known, already had a busy season ahead in 2023 with the Rugby Africa Men’s Sevens which will double as the qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

And now another high-profile competition has been added to their schedule.

Zimbabwe is amongst the 12 nations that will take part in two rounds of the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023, which was announced by World Rugby on Wednesday.

The two rounds of the 2023 edition will be played at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa on the weekends of April 20-22 and 28-30.

The Zimbabwe side will face familiar sevens rivals in a twelve-team competition that will follow the Olympic Games competition format.

These are Uganda, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Belgium, Brazil, Chile and Italy.

The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 will be played over two legs in Stellenbosch, South Africa in April

Zimbabwe took part in this year’s edition of the World Rugby Sevens Series which was played over one leg in Chile.

Graham Kaulback’s charges finished a disappointing eighth out of the 12 participating nations. Uruguay claimed the coveted title which secured their promotion to the current edition of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Unlike this season when the Challenger Series winner would directly qualify for the World Series, next year will see the winning team from this series proceeding to a four-team playoff at the London Sevens in May 2023 alongside the bottom-three teams from the World Rugby Sevens Series.

The winner from this playoff will achieve core status for the pinnacle of international rugby sevens, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in 2024.

At the end of this series in 2024, the bottom four teams will compete against the top four teams from the Challenger Series in a relegation playoff which will see four teams secure their places in the next edition of the Series.

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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