Africa expects three sevens teams at 2020 Olympics

By Xinhua: Thursday, December 19th 2019 at 06:05 GMT +3 | Rugby
Kenya's Johnstone Olindi races away from the Senegal defence during the Africa Sevens tournament which was also used as 2020Tokyo Olympics qualifier in Johannesburg on November 8, 2019. [Courtesy KRU]

Rugby Africa says the continent has high hopes to field three teams to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, with Uganda and Zimbabwe set to compete at the World Repechage Cup in June.

Andrew Owuor, vice president of Rugby Africa, says with Kenya and South Africa already having secured their tickets to the Olympics, Uganda has a good chance of breaking its duck to join the two in Japan in August. World Rugby said Uganda, who are Sevens Challenger Series participants, will join Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong of China, Jamaica, Mexico, Tonga and Zimbabwe in the Olympic repechage in June 2020 to try and secure their place in Tokyo.

The Sevens Challenger Series is an international rugby sevens competition which will be launched in February 2020 by World Rugby. The men's series will feature 13 core teams from the six World Rugby regions who will compete over two rounds alongside three invitational teams.

The top eight core teams after the two rounds will then compete in the final playoff tournament for a spot in the premier World Rugby Sevens Series, replacing the bottom-placed core team in the World Series for the following season.

"This promotion and relegation system will provide a clear and consistent development pathway for teams ready to shine at the highest level of rugby sevens," said Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman.

The two legs of the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will be played in South America in Vina del Mar, Chile on February 15 and 16, and Montevideo, Uruguay on February 22 and 23. Thirteen teams have earned their place in the Challenger Series by finishing top-ranked at their respective regional sevens competitions in 2019.

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The teams to compete in the 2020 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series are Brazil, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong of China, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

They will be joined by three invitational teams from the Americas in Colombia, Mexico and Paraguay. The final playoff tournament will be hosted alongside the World Rugby Sevens Series event in Hong Kong, China from April 3 to 5. A separate announcement for the women's Challenger Series will be made in due course.

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