Cook Islands Rugby Union has set its sight on the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
The series which starts next year does not include the national team after its poor performance at the Oceania Sevens in Fiji last month.
But Cook Islands Rugby Union development manager Ben Koteka said they were aiming to qualify for the series in 2021.
“The series surely provides us with an extra incentive at the Oceania Sevens and the aim is to qualify for it in 2021,” Koteka said.
Cook Islands have twice qualified for the Hong Kong event from the Oceania tournament.
With the qualification to this new series at stake, the team is hoping to put together a formidable team for next year’s regional tournament.
The new challenger series aimed at boosting the expansion of the sport includes Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Portugal, and Uruguay.
According to World Rugby, the new and exciting international rugby sevens competition, will be launched in February 2020 to boost rugby sevens’ development across the globe.
With sevens experiencing exponential growth from a performance and fan engagement perspective, World Rugby said the challenger series would develop the next generation of rugby players and take rugby sevens to new nations.
The international rugby governing body hopes the tournament further grows the popularity and participation following its hugely impactful Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games.
The series will have both the men’s and women’s team competing. 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 two legs of the inaugural World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series will be played in South America in Viña del Mar, Chile (February 15-16, 2020) and Montevideo, Uruguay (February 22-23, 2020).
The top eight core teams after the two rounds will then compete in the final playoff tournament for a spot in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, replacing the bottom placed core team in the World Series in 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.
The final playoff tournament will be hosted alongside the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event in Hong Kong on April 3-5, 2020.
A separate announcement for the women’s challenger series will be made in due course.
In a statement World Rugby said they were heavily committed to growing the women’s game – the women’s competition on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series has expanded from six to eight rounds this season and teams are more competitive than ever, demonstrating the need and appetite for more women’s teams to be playing sevens at a high level.