Sevens Challenger Series to benefit Samoa

A potential pathway to the World Rugby Sevens Series for the Manusina 7s is hoped to have trickle-down effects to the wellbeing of the grassroots game too.

While specific details are yet to be revealed, a new Sevens Challenger Series will create tournaments in which the non-Series teams like Samoa to play each other for the right to be promoted to the top-tier in the next season.

“It augurs well for the future of the local game as well,” Samoa Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i said.

“There’s an opportunity for girls to be part of that event, where if you’re really good at [rugby sevens], it becomes a short-term career in terms of being a rugby player, professional or semi-professional or whatever.

“It’s a huge experience to travel around the world participating in that, and it’d be good for the women’s game.”

Faleomavaega said there are a lot of ongoing discussions in World Rugby about both the men’s and women’s Sevens Challenger Series, as well as the facilitating of more growth in the women’s game generally.

The women’s World Rugby Sevens Series has expanded from six to eight rounds for the 2019/20 season, with more tournaments being combined with legs from the men’s Series.

But fitting all those games into a three-day tournament has come with consequences.

“It has impacted on the men’s competition as well, if you look at the last event [leg two in Cape Town] where [the Manu Samoa 7s] only played four games,” Faleomavaega said.

In the combined tournaments, non-quarterfinalists have just one further playoff after their three pool games.

“The coaches and players are finding that now, if you don’t make the top two in each pool, you’re basically finished,” the C.E.O. said.

Faleomavaega said it’s an issue all the participating nations have raised, and that it is concerning to travel so far for a tournament for just four games:

“There’s an impact on the exposure of our sponsor.”

But he also acknowledged the need to accommodate the growing women’s game.

“There’s no easy solution to it,” Faleomavaega said.

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