World Rugby announce Sevens Challenger Series where teams will battle for spot on world series circuit
World Rugby have announced an inaugural Sevens Challenger Series that will see countries fighting for a spot on the world series.
There are currently 14 core teams on the world series circuit, including current leaders New Zealand who have won the past three events.
The standalone challenger event will be held on March 28 and 29 in South Africa, with 12 teams fighting for the one spot through both pool and play-off stages.
The teams competing are: Argentina, Belgium, China, Colombia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Scotland and hosts South Africa.
The announcement of the women's challenger tournament comes after the unveiling of an identical event in the men's game, which will take place in February.
Speaking about both the events, World Rugby's chairman Bill Beaumont said: "The launch of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series for both women and men is an important milestone moment for the development of rugby sevens around the globe.
“Sevens has seen dynamic growth in interest and fan engagement since making it’s hugely successful Olympic debut at Rio 2016, and it is right to launch the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in a pivotal year for rugby sevens ahead of the spotlight shone by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“World Rugby is heavily committed to growing the women’s game – the women’s competition on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has expanded from six to eight rounds this season and teams are more competitive than ever, demonstrating the need and appetite for more women’s teams to be playing sevens at a high level with a clear pathway to progress to the very top of rugby sevens.”