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China women secure place at HSBC SVNS Play Off in Madrid

Quarter-final line-ups confirmed after thrilling first day of World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger final round in Munich and Krakow, as China women qualify for HSBC SVNS Play Off in Madrid
  • Women’s standings leaders China secure place at HSBC SVNS Play Off in Madrid
  • Quarter-final line-ups confirmed after thrilling first day of World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger final round in Munich and Krakow
  • Men’s quarter-finals: Kenya v Germany, Hong Kong China v Tonga, Uruguay v Georgia, Uganda v Chile
  • Women’s quarter-finals: Argentina v Kenya, Poland v Czechia, China v Uganda, Paraguay v Belgium
  • Finals day begins at 11:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday in both locations as the race to become Challenger champions reaches its conclusion
  • The top four placed men’s and women’s teams qualify for the new HSBC SVNS promotion and relegation play-off competition in Madrid on 31 May – 2 June
  • Fans around the globe can watch the action live on rugbypass.tv

A thrilling first day of international rugby sevens action in the third and final round of the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 saw women’s standings leaders China secure their place at the HSBC SVNS promotion and relegation play off competition in Madrid on 31 May to 2 June.

There is more to play for than ever before in this year’s Challenger with the competition expanded to three rounds and the top four placed men’s and women’s teams in with a chance of gaining promotion to HSBC SVNS 2025 via the new play off tournament.

VIEW SEVENS CHALLENGER STANDINGS AND NEWS >>

The quarter-final line-ups were confirmed following Saturday’s pool play in the women’s competition in Krakow, Poland, and at the men’s tournament in Munich, Germany.

In the women’s quarter-finals Argentina play Kenya, hosts Poland face Czechia, leaders China against Uganda and Paraguay take on Belgium.

The men’s quarter-finals see Kenya face hosts Germany, Hong Kong China against Tonga, leaders Uruguay versus Georgia and Uganda take on Chile.

The quarter-finals begin at 11:00 local time (GMT+2) on Sunday in both locations, before the semi-finals at 14:06 and the cup final at 17:23.

VIEW POOLS, SCORES AND FIXTURES >>

China’s women came into the tournament leading the standings after winning the first rounds in Dubai and Montevideo and were on top form once more with three wins from three ensuring they topped pool A and secured their place in the HSBC SVNS promotion and relegation play-off competition in Madrid.

Three more spots remain for the taking tomorrow as the action continues at Henryk Rayman’s Municipal Stadium.

Czechia had a slow start with a 24-12 loss against China, however, they went on to have one of the biggest ranking jumps today, with convincing victories against Hong Kong China and Thailand taking them to second place in Pool A.

In pool B, Argentina cruised to the top of the board, convincingly winning all three of their matches against Paraguay, Papua New Gunia and Uganda and will face Kenya tomorrow who placed third today.

In pool C, hosts Poland started the day with a tough encounter with a physical Kenya and very nearly took the victory but a missed conversion in the dying seconds saw them miss out. But they bounced back quickly with an impressive 55-0 win against Mexico and wrapped up the day’s proceedings with an exciting showdown that went into extra time culminating with a 24-19 victory over Belgium in front of a jubilant home crowd in Krakow.

After qualifying for Madrid, China’s Head Coach Lu Zhuan commented: “We joined the circuit in 2018 and it was a pity that we didn’t make it the last time but we’re really looking forward to the opportunity to try to join the world circuit this time round.

“We’ve always worked hard throughout the season and we always bring joy into our training but at the same time we work super hard and we hope we bring that to the game.

“I think the players will really appreciate the time that they will experience in Madrid and I’m sure they will perform at their best.”

GORDON TIETJENS PREDICTS BRIGHT FUTURE FOR CHINA >>

Argentina’s Micaela Pallero said: “We feel really good, we came for the three matches today and we went step by step and we are already set in our minds for tomorrow.

“Our strength has been our defence and we weren’t as strong as we wanted today, so we are going to work on that and see the videos and analyse what happened today and we’re going to focus on having a stronger defence for tomorrow.”

The top five teams in the men’s standings all secured safe passage to Sunday’s quarter-finals in at Dantestadion in Munich.

Kenya were cheered on by a huge contingent of noisy and colourful fans and they did not disappoint them with a hat-trick of victories over Japan, Portugal and Chile to top pool C.

Hosts Germany and Hong Kong China are locked in a battle for the all important fourth place in the standings and were equal on points heading in to Munich, meaning whoever places higher this weekend will clinch their place at the HSBC SVNS play off in Madrid.

Hong Kong China continued the impressive form that took them all the way to the final last time out in Montevideo as they overcame Uganda, Tonga and Mexico to finish top of pool B with a positive points difference of 108.

Meanwhile Germany has to settle for second position in pool A as they went down 24-21 to standings leaders Uruguay in a pulsating last match of the day in Munich. However the hosts earlier wins over Georgia and Papua New Guinea saw them safely through to the quarter-finals where they will face a mouthwatering clash with fan favourites Kenya.

Hong Kong China player Hugo Stiles said: “We’re starting to play the brand of rugby we know we’re about. We’ve got some really talented players who, ball in space, can look really dangerous. It’s my job to put those boys in space and then get on the end of it, which I managed to do a couple of times.

“The coaches are pretty happy. We’re quite a momentum team so building into the tournament like that is exactly what we want to do. It’s very much a game by game mentality and we do know we’ve got to finish on top of Germany because it looks like the top three have found their space in Madrid.

“It would be huge [getting onto the SVNS circuit]. It’s quite an interesting setup now with the bottom four playing the top four and then it all comes down to the quarter final, but we fancy our chances. We’ve just got to make it happen this weekend.

Uruguay’s James McCubbin said: “We are qualified for the quarterfinals. It's the objective we had today, so we’re very happy that we achieved our goal today. We trained very, very hard these six weeks since the last tournament in Montevideo. And watching the results of our training, it's quite nice, and we are finding our game.

“Our objective is to achieve first place, so we know the pressure, we are familiar with it, we like it, so we embrace it. Well, that's our objective [getting back on the HSBC SVNS circuit]. Last year it was very tough to descend, and play again in the Challenger, but it’s our opportunity to go back to the series, and we are working every day for that goal, so we have that aim and we are doing everything to be there.”

On the prospect of playing at the Atletico Madrid stadium he added: “I like it, there are a lot of feelings that go with being in that stadium, so big with such great history, so it's a big responsibility for each player that is on that field, playing and having this Uruguayan shirt. So it's nice.”

Germany captain John Dawe said: “The home crowd is a massive boost. It’s amazing to have a home tournament. I know the union has worked really, really hard to get this going, so we’re really proud and we’re very excited to be here. The Germans are absolutely amazing. The population in the [German] rugby community is small, but when they come out they come out in force, and they really push us, which is amazing.”

The Challenger was introduced in February 2020 to boost the development of rugby sevens across the globe and provide a clear promotion pathway to reach the top level of global rugby sevens for the short format of the game which has experienced huge growth over the past two decades since the introduction of the global sevens series and becoming an Olympic sport at the Rio 2016 Games.

The bigger and better than ever 2024 edition of the Sevens Challenger kicked off with combined men’s and women’s event at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on 12-14 January, which was won by Kenya men and China women. The combined second round took place in Montevideo, Uruguay on 8-10 March where the hosts won the men’s event and China claimed the women’s title. The third and final round sees standalone women’s and men’s events at Henryk Reyman’s Municipal Stadium in Krakow, Poland and Dantestadion in Munich, Germany respectively on 18-19 May.

Fans around the globe can watch the action on rugbypass.tv.

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