Zim ref Pazani to take charge in World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series

Pazani’s selection to officiate in the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 comes after a successful year in 2022.

EXPERIENCED Zimbabwean rugby referee Precious Pazani is among the officials appointed for the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023, which is set to take place over two three-day weekends from April 20-22 and April 28-30 April,  in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Pazani’s appointment was confirmed by World Rugby on Tuesday. She is among an elite panel of 12 match officials representing 10 nations which will take charge of the combined men’s and women’s events at Markotter Stadium.

Pazani is joined by the South African duo of Giana Viljoen, Zoe Naude, France’s Doriane Domenjo, Ano Kuwai from Japan and Australian Jess Ling in the six-member panel of refrees which will officiate in the women´s competition

The winner of the 12-team women’s Challenger Series will gain the ultimate prize of automatic promotion to the Sevens World Series 2024 — the pinnacle of international rugby sevens.

The winner of the men’s Challenger Series, which also features 12 teams including Zimbabwe, will enter a four-team play-off at the HSBC London Sevens in May 2023 together with the teams placed 12th-14th after 10 rounds of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with the winner of the play-off achieving Sevens World Series 2024 status.

Pazani’s selection to officiate in the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series 2023 comes after a successful year in 2022.

Last year she became the first Zimbabwean rugby referee to officiate at the World Cup after her participation at the Rugby World Cup Sevens which was held in Cape Town, South Africa in September.

Earlier in the season, the 32 year-old official has also broke barriers after officiating in a number of high profile competitions such as the Women’s Six Nations Championship, men's Under-20 Six Nations Championship and the 2022 men’s Rugby Africa Cup which doubled as the qualifiers for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The multi-talented Pazani has been on a steady rise since crossing over from basketball to rugby, where she played for Zimbabwe in women’s rugby sevens before venturing into refereeing in 2014.

World Rugby High Performance Sevens Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien said the World Rugby Challenger Series would provide an opportunity of match gifted officials to continue their development.

“The World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series provides us with a fantastic opportunity to continue developing top level match officials in a meaningful international competition over two highly competitive events,” O’Brien said.

“The match officials selected represent an exciting group of referees who have a bright future in international rugby as we build towards Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028, and I would like to wish them all the best over the two weeks in Stellenbosch.”

World Rugby High Performance Women’s Referee Manager Alhambra Nievas said: “Over the course of the two weeks, the selected match officials will have the opportunity to experience the on-and-off field requirements of being an international referee, including physical and technical sessions, mental preparedness, fitness, team cohesion and decision making.

“These appointments provide another opportunity for a hardworking and talented group of young match officials to help facilitate exciting and meaningful matches and we have every confidence that they will be well prepared and ready to perform over the six days of competition in April.


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