Estadio Santa Laura is ready to stage the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2022 as 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams chase a place on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023.

One-off men’s and women’s tournaments will be held concurrently at the stadium in Santiago, Chile with the winner of each securing core status for the 2023 Series.

The action will kick-off at 10:45 local time (GMT-4) on Friday when Kazakhstan and Colombia take to the pitch to contest the first match of the women’s tournament.

Pool F will continue following that match with the meeting of Japan, who were last a core team on the women’s Series in 2018, and Mexico.

Belgium and Papua New Guinea will then get their Pool E campaigns underway before Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Championship 2022 winners Poland take on Argentina.

Las Yaguaretés finished third at the recent Sudamérica Rugby Women’s Sevens in Brazil and captain Gimena Mattus insisted this week that her teammates must concentrate on their own game if they are to make it to the quarter-finals.

“The objective we set ourselves was to improve what had been our game system,” Mattus said. “We already know the rivals, we have been analysing them. 

“They are quite strong and experienced teams but, planting ourselves well on the pitch, with our game plan, we are going to play well.”

The Argentine captain, though, believes it could work in her team’s favour to have been drawn in what looks a tough pool.

“I think it helps us a lot to play games like this to measure ourselves and know how [good] we really are,” she added.

Maintaining energy and momentum

South Africa, China, Kenya and Chile complete the women’s tournament line-up in Pool D.

China, a core team in 2019, will kick off their Challenger Series campaign against Kenya before South Africa take on hosts Chile.

South Africa finished seventh at last month’s Commonwealth Games at the Coventry Stadium, but coach Paul Delport has made multiple changes to his squad with four uncapped players coming in.

“We are under no illusions about this trip, it is going to be taxing travelling and we will need to find our feet quickly with limited preparation time,” Delport said last week.

“One thing that gives me comfort, especially from this senior core group, is that they will fight till the very end and there is nothing more a coach can ask for.

“We finished the Commonwealth Games on a really positive note and will try and take that energy and momentum into the Challenger Series tournament.”

The top two teams in each pool following the final pool-stage matches on Saturday will qualify for the quarter-finals, along with the two best third-placed finishers.

On Sunday, the quarter-final winners will meet in the semi-finals before the final decides the team that will take its place on the 2023 Series.

“Huge” home support

The men’s tournament will be played in exactly the same format in Santiago and will get underway on Friday when Uruguay take on Pool C rivals Uganda.

Germany then play Lithuania and the Rugby Europe Men’s Sevens Championship 2022 runners-up will be one of the main contenders for the title.

Pool B, meanwhile, features Tonga, Jamaica – both of whom featured at the Commonwealth Games – Hong Kong and Zimbabwe.

Korea, Papua New Guinea, Chile and Georgia will be the final four teams to enter the Challenger Series on Friday as they kick-off their Pool A campaigns.

The hosts play Georgia in the final match of the opening day and Julio Blanc cannot wait to play in front of a home crowd.

“We have a new team with experienced players and hopefully playing at home will gives us a plus,” he said. “From what I know, the support will be huge.”