Five of the eight teams that made it through to the quarter-finals of the opening tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Viña del Mar last week – the hosts Chile, eventual winners Germany, beaten finalists Hong Kong, Japan and Tonga – will contest the second title on offer in Montevideo after successfully coming through the opening day of competition.
Fresh from their 10-0 win in the final, Germany won all three games to top Pool A, Hong Kong and Japan did likewise in Pools B and C and Tonga managed to improve on last week's second-place pool finish and top Pool D ahead of Chile. There were three different runners-up, though, in Jamaica, Italy and hosts Uruguay.
Germany once again impressed in their wins over Papua New Guinea (24-10), Uruguay (26-10) and Mexico (38-7). Los Teros Sevens claimed wins over Mexico and Papua New Guinea to finish second, while Mexico bounced back from the disappointment of finishing last in Chile by registering a much-celebrated 17-12 win over PNG.
Rather than dwell on last week's near-miss, Jamaica picked themselves up from their 10th-place finish and beat Uganda and Brazil to claim second place in Pool B. Their only defeat came against unbeaten Hong Kong, who won all three matches despite fielding a much-changed squad from Chile.
"We had the luxury of bringing some new faces in, some fresh legs. We only need to keep trusting our game, and hopefully, go one better this weekend," said captain Max Woodward.
"Tomorrow is knock-out rugby and we don’t have much experience playing Italy so we’ll look at them tonight and look forward to that game. Our goal is to win one game at a time."
Japan recorded the biggest win of the Challenger Series so far in defeating Paraguay 71-5 but they were made to work hard for their victories against Italy and Zimbabwe – both by a 26-12 scoreline.
Tonga made good use of having an extra man against a Chile side that played eight minutes with six players due to the sending off of Alfonso Escobar. This allowed them to top Pool D ahead of Los Condores Sevens.
The first of the quarter-finals will see series leaders Germany come up against Chile, then it is the turn of Japan and Jamaica, followed by Tonga against Uruguay – in a repeat of one of last week's fixtures – and Hong Kong against Italy.
“Tonga was a hard game in Viña," admitted Uruguay captain Felipe Etcheverry. "We lost but we felt we could have won it. It is a rematch for us and I have all the confidence in my team.
"It is nice it is to play at home, at the ground where we train every day and with friends and family in the stands."
World Rugby is currently examining all options in relation to hosting a third and final round of the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series, which was due to be held in Hong Kong in April, taking into consideration the dynamic and ongoing situation regarding Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and already full Olympic Sevens calendar year. Further updates will be issued at a later stage.
Photo: Eitan Abramovich/GaspaFotos