The race to qualify from the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger 2024 took a potentially decisive turn in Montevideo this weekend as Uruguay’s men and China’s women emerged victorious on Sunday.

Hosts Uruguay completed a remarkable comeback at Estadio Charrúa on Sunday, beating Hong Kong China 28-0 in the men’s Cup final having only made it through to the quarter-finals as one of the two best third-placed finishers in the pool stage.

Victory means Los Teros Sevens have 36 points from a possible 40 following two men’s tournaments, level with Kenya at the top of the standings and crucially 10 points clear of the beaten finalists in fifth with one round to play in Munich (18-19 May).

"We are happy. It was a difficult weekend. We started badly but we knew that from quarter-finals onwards, every game was a final and we knew how to win it," Uruguay captain Diego Ardao said.

"I am very grateful to the people that came the three days to support us, for their singing and for sharing the joy with us.

"From now, it is upwards. We can’t let go, we must continue pushing. We know that they will come after us in Munich. We will adjust and continue growing."

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China, meanwhile, made it two women’s Cup titles from two with a 38-7 defeat of Argentina in the showpiece match.

The Chinese head into the final women’s 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 and Munich, the top four in both the men’s and women’s standings will qualify for a standalone promotion-relegation tournament against the bottom four teams from HSBC SVNS 2024.

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

Uruguay, China claim gold

Midway through day two it looked unlikely that the fans who packed the Estadio Charrúa stands would be treated to a home victory.

Uruguay lost to Uganda and Germany in Pool C but having snuck into the quarter-finals, they beat Portugal 26-7 and followed that up with a narrow 10-7 defeat of Chile in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Buoyed by their home support, Los Teros Sevens then scored four unanswered tries in the men’s final – through Ardao, Bautista Basso, Ignacio Facciolo and Ignacio Alvarez Akiki – to secure a 28-0 victory against Hong Kong China.

Surprise package Hong Kong China enjoyed victories against Japan, Chile, Tonga and Kenya over the course of the weekend and have climbed up to fifth in the overall standings, level on points with Germany one place above them.

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, Kenya finish on high

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.

The men’s third-place play-off was a repeat of the Dubai final as Kenya faced the Chile team they edged to the Cup title at The Sevens Stadium in January.

Once again it was the Shujaa who came out on top at Estadio Charrúa as they cemented their place in the men’s Challenger Series top four with a 31-12 victory.

Kenya raced into a 19-5 half-time lead thanks to tries from Lamec Ambetsa Kokoya, Vincent Onyala and Anthony Omondi before John Okoth made sure of victory with a lung-busting break midway through the second half. Salem Adoyo and Luca Strabucchi swapped converted tries before the final whistle.

Chile will rue missed opportunities, however, not least in the moments directly after half-time when Diego Warnken knocked on when seemingly sprinting home unopposed.

Kenya will head to Munich in May level with Uruguay at the top of the standings. Chile are four points further back in third but hold a healthy six-point cushion over fifth-placed Hong Kong China in the overall men’s standings.

Germany, Poland maintain hopes

Earlier on Sunday, Germany made sure of fifth place in the men's tournament with a 10-7 defeat of Uganda that maintains their place in the top four on points difference from Hong Kong China.

Tonga, meanwhile, are eight points adrift of Germany in the overall standings following their 28-17 seventh-place play-off victory against Portugal. Georgia finished ninth in Montevideo, beating Japan 17-12 on day three, while Papua New Guinea won the 11th-place play-off 47-12 against Mexico.

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.