China clinched the final qualifying spot for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 as they beat Kenya 24-7 in the final of the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco.  

In an unbeaten weekend, China beat Paraguay 31-0 and Poland by 40-7 on finals day on their way to the last dance, with four tries that included a brace from Chen Keyi helping them to victory over Kenya and their 27th win on the bounce this season.

Kenya, who are the only side to have beaten China all season on the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger, had edged past both Argentina and Czechia before falling agonisingly short in the final, while Poland ended their weekend on a high as they won bronze with a 33-14 win over Czechia.

Final: China win place in Paris

A tense opening few minutes saw Kenya enjoy most of the possession, but the deadlock was eventually broken by the pace of China’s Chen Keyi, converted to take them seven points ahead.

Kenya soon hit back however, Janet Okelo on the shoulder of her teammate to go under the posts to level the scores. Accurate handling became key as rain set in, and China kept the ball well to wrestle the lead back just before the break with a second from Keyi.

China found space in the Kenyan defence soon into the second half, Sun Yue going over for their third to take them 17-7 ahead, and problems were compounded when a midfield scrum in their 22 was converted into China’s fourth try, Gu Yaoyao gliding on the outside edge.

A breakaway from Kenya with two minutes to go gave them hope, but they were unable to convert as China confirmed their place in Paris with a 24-7 win.

“We are feeling really good, we are so excited to go to Paris,” said brace-scorer Keyi after the game. “I think we deserve it, we work so hard for each other, on and off the field.”

“We are so proud of ourselves; we are so proud of our team-mates; and we are so proud of our coaches,” added Liu Xiaoqian.

“[Time for] a holiday for us I think,” said Keyi. “We want to go home and see our parents and friends. See you in Paris!”

Semi-finals: China beat Poland; Kenya edge Czechia  

China led 12-0 with half time beckoning after Poland had suffered an early yellow card, but a late reply from Natalia Pamięta got her back within five points as the break came. Dou Xinrong, however, would reassert China’s lead with the clock deep in the red, executing a perfect switch out wide to lead 19-5.

Another well worked try got China under the posts early after the break. All the momentum was with the favourites, and as Liu Xiaoqian and Sun Yue added further scores their victory became inevitable, winning 40-7 to advance within 14 minutes of the final.

In the second semi-final it was Kenya that would take the early lead, runaway scores from Grace Okulu and Janet Okelo giving them a 12-0 lead after a matter of minutes, before Czechia reigned them in thanks to a score from Kristýna Riegertová.

A tight second half saw defence come to the fore for both sides, but on the brink of the buzzer Kenya passed forward and gave Czechia one final chance with a scrum in the Kenya 22. Julie Durychova went blind for a vital score, but Julie Doležilová could not convert the difficult conversion from out wide, sending Kenya to the final for a chance at a place in Paris.