China win second Challenger round

The race to qualify from the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 continued in Montevideo this weekend and China emerged victorious – again.

Published by John Birch, March 10th, 2024

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China win second Challenger round

The race to qualify from the Challenger took a potentially decisive turn in Montevideo this weekend as China’s won their second Challenger tournament, following on from their win in Dubai with a 38-7 defeat of Argentina in the showpiece match.

The Chinese head into the final tournament of the 2024 Challenger Series in Krakow between 18-19 May with a perfect 40 points from 40 and a healthy 16-point lead over fifth-placed Kenya.

"I'm very happy and very emotional with these back-to-back gold medals," China's Chen Keyi said. "We had a great start in the first minute of the [final] and we were leading all the way. The team was very hyped from the very beginning."

Following the conclusion of the final round of action in Krakow, the top four in the series will qualify for a standalone promotion-relegation tournament against the bottom four teams from HSBC SVNS 2024.

Four women’s teams will emerge from those tournaments in Madrid to complete the line-up for HSBC SVNS 2025.

Barring a complete loss of form, it looks as though China will be one of the four women’s teams to qualify for the Grand Finals in Madrid from the Challenger Series.

Argentina and China both went into the women’s final in Montevideo unbeaten after comfortable Cup semi-final victories against Belgium and Uganda respectively on Sunday.

However, the Chinese took control of the showpiece match from the very first minute as Dou Xinrong streaked away to open the scoring.

Liu Xiaoqian added a quickfire double and, after Chen Keyi and Yan Melling had each crossed the whitewash, she completed her hat-trick in the second half. There was still time for Micaela Pallero to touch down for Argentina, but it was nothing more than consolation.

After two tournaments, China lead the women’s standings by six points from Argentina, who sit second with 34 points. China will secure their place in Madrid as long as they qualify for the Cup quarter-finals in Poland.

On their short journey home, Argentina can at least take heart from the fact their performance in Montevideo has helped build a 10-point cushion over Kenya in fifth.

Belgium dusted themselves down from their semi-final disappointment against Argentina to end their tournament on a high with an impressive 29-12 defeat of Uganda in the women’s third-place play-off.

Nele Pien opened the scoring less than 30 seconds into the match and Belgium stormed into a 24-0 lead as a penalty try was followed by tries from Cecile Blondiau and Ambre Collet.

Peace Lekuru got Uganda on the board before Noemie van de Poele and Grace Auma traded unconverted tries.

It means the Lady Cranes – who have finished both women’s tournaments in fourth place – and Belgium head to the final round in Krakow in May level on 28 points and inside the top four of the standings, four points ahead of Kenya in fifth. The Lionesses, beaten finalists in Dubai, finished a disappointing eighth in Montevideo.

In the women's tournament, Poland maintained their hopes of finishing in the top four with a 28-17 defeat of Thailand in the fifth-place play-off. They will begin their home tournament in Krakow six points outside the qualification places in sixth.

Hong Kong China kept up their own slim chances of a top four place with an impressive 27-22 defeat of Kenya in the seventh-place play-off, while Paraguay beat Czechia 10-7 to finish ninth and Mexico edged Papua New Guinea 19-12 in the 11th-place play-off.


Pool A: Poland 46-0 Czechia; China 29-5 Paraguay; Poland 32-5 Paraguay; China 28-15 Czechia; Czechia 31-7 Paraguay; China 24-12 Poland

Pool B: Belgium 37-5 Papua New Guinea; Kenya 0-12 Hong Kong; Belgium 24-5 Hong Kong; Kenya 29-12 Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea 14-27 Hong Kong; Kenya 5-21 Belgium

Pool C: Uganda 15-5 Thailand; Argentina 54-0 Mexico; Uganda 48-7 Mexico; Argentina 10-7 Thailand; Thailand 38-0 Mexico; Argentina 21-5 Uganda

Quarter-Finals: Hong Kong 17-22 Uganda; China 24-7 Kenya; Argentina 26-17 Poland; Belgium 17-5 Thailand

9th-12th Place Semi-Finals: Papua New Guinea 5-19 Paraguay; Czechia 29-0 Mexico

Semi-Finals: Uganda 10-26 China; Argentina 35-5 Belgium

11th Place: Papua New Guinea 12-19 Mexico

9th Place: Paraguay 10-7 Czechia

7th Place: Kenya 22-27 Hong Kong

5th Place: Poland 28-17 Thailand

3rd Place: Uganda 12-24 Belgium

Final: China 38-7 Argentina

Dubai Montevideo Krakow Points
1 China 20 20 40
2 Argentina 16 18 34
3 Uganda 14 14 28
3 Belgium 12 16 28
5 Kenya 18 6 24
6 Poland 10 12 22
7 Thailand 8 10 18
8 Hong Kong 3 8 11
9 Czechia 6 3 9
10 Paraguay 2 4 6
11 Papua New Guinea 4 1 5
12 Mexico 1 2 3