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China wins first SVNS Challenger

Three days of fascinating, unpredictable, sevens ended with a win for the pre-tournament favourites.

China – the pre-tournament favourites – may have won the first of the three-leg Challenge Series, but no team ended the weekend unbeaten, which suggests that there is more excitement to come when the series resumes in Montevideo in March.

The opening day was full of unexpected results. Argentina – who declined their place in last year’s series – beat the much-fancied Poland in Pool C on the morning of the first day, before a fine performance by Kenya gave them a win over China in Pool B. Then in the second round Kenya fell to Czechia.

After that there were no real surprises in the remaining pool games. Instead these were saved up for the quarter finals where all three European teams fell.

Belgium had recorded a perfect record of three wins to top their pool but were beaten 17-12 by Uganda in an enthralling quarter-final. There was further African joy as the large Kenyan contingent in the crowd celebrated a 22-12 victory over Czechia to secure their place in the semi-finals.

China were now hitting their straps hard after that shaky start, and saw off Uganda comfortably before the tournaments only unbeaten team – Argentina – took on Kenya, but their run ended one game from the final, Kenya winning 17-0.

The final was therefore a repeat of the opening round pool game, but this time China took and early lead and held it throughout the game.


Pool A: Thailand 15-0 Papua New Guinea; Belgium 14-5 Uganda; Thailand 19-7 Uganda; Belgium 31-10 Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea 17-24 Uganda; Belgium 17-7 Thailand

Pool B:  Czechia 34-0 Mexico; China 12-17 Kenya; Czechia 12-10 Kenya; China 64-0 Mexico; Mexico 0-40 Kenya; China 30-7 Czechia

Pool C: Hong Kong 17-0 Paraguay; Poland 12-19 Argentina; Hong Kong 0-19 Argentina; Poland 45-5 Paraguay; Paraguay 12-33 Argentina; Poland 33-0 Hong Kong

9th-12th Place Semi-Finals: Papua New Guinea 33-26 Paraguay; Hong Kong 22-10 Mexico

Quarter-Finals: China 31-10 Poland; Belgium 12-17 Uganda; Argentina 22-12 Thailand; Kenya 22-12 Czechia

Semi-Finals: China 45-5 Uganda; Argentina 0-17 Kenya

11th Place: Paraguay 12-5 Mexico

9th Place: Papua New Guinea 31-0 Hong Kong

7th Place: Thailand 31-12 Czechia

5th Place: Poland 5-10 Belgium

3rd Place: Uganda 10-36 Argentina

Final China 19-5 Kenya