Oceania Rugby confirms today that the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge will be held at the Hugh Courtney Oval home to the North Brisbane Rugby Union Club Eagles.
The 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge is a truncated version of the Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship which features 14 teams vying for a place in the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. The 2022 event will see eight men’s and six women’s teams from across the Oceania Region participating.
The top two men’s and the top placed women’s teams at the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge will qualify to the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series. The winner of the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will achieve core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2024.
Oceania Rugby Interim, General Manager, Lemalu Wayne Schuster highlighted the importance of these events saying:
“Providing an opportunity for all our member unions to finally participate and experience International Sevens rugby once again is critical in recharging their sevens programs after a two-year absence from international competition.
“Given the success of Oceania teams at recent HSBC Sevens Series events, we want to replicate these successes across all our other member unions, especially those vying for spots in the World Rugby Sevens Challenger series. To accomplish this, they need to be exposed to more high-level competitions in the region” Schuster added.
The men’s event will feature Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Australia A. Tonga and Papua New Guinea will be hoping to return to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series after both participated this year. Kiribati will be the unknown factor in their maiden outing at an international event.
Kiribati Rugby Union President, Karea Baireti, said Kiribati is excited to be making their debut at the 2022 Oceania Rugby Sevens Challenge, having joined Oceania Rugby in 2021.
"We are thrilled and honoured to have our countries’ first rugby international debut at the Oceania Rugby Sevens this month. It is a really important first step as our aim is to qualify for the 2032 Olympics, and this competition and the experience it will give us, will set us building the foundations to make this dream possible. We are the newest Union in the Pacific, and we aim to make a difference. Everyone is looking forward to their first caps for Kiribati.
“We have solicited outside experience of our overseas I-Kiribati players who have been assisting remotely to prepare our squad. Our meetings and matches promote the Rugby values and we have seen interest in Rugby really grow as our youth embrace the sport.
“In spite of not having a dedicated rugby field yet; nor boots available locally all are thrilled to be a part of the upcoming competition with some of the squad having never travelled abroad before.” Baireti added.
The women’s side of the tournament will see the Cook Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu all trying to prevent Papua New Guinea returning to the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series for a second year. The event is the first outing for all teams beside Papua New Guinea since the 2019 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship.
Peter Harding, Tonga Rugby Union CEO, noted the growth potential of the Kingdom’s young women’s side.
“The Oceania Sevens is a classic event which all pacific nations look forward to. We have a young exciting women’s team ready to compete this year who are looking forward to the Challenge. In the Kingdom we have a new focus on both the development and growth of women’s rugby, and we are looking forward to following the path to success paved by teams such as Fiji. It really is exciting times.
“Our Men’s team were unlucky to lose the final in the 2022 World Rugby Challenger Series, so we are confident in the team heading to Brisbane and are primed to see them return to the 2023 Challenger Series after a strong showing next weekend” Harding added.
A total of 42 matches (24 Men’s and 18 women’s matches) will be played across 2 days of competition.