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Rugby: China qualify for 2014/15 IRB Women’s Sevens World Series

China, coached by Lu Xiaohui, beat Brazil 45-7 to secure one of four new places on the 2014/15 Women's Sevens World Series. Photos: SportAsia.

China, coached by Lu Xiaohui, were one of four teams to secure core-team status at the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series Qualifier in Hong Kong. Photos: SportAsia.

September 13, 2014: China became the first-ever Asian team to secure core-team status on the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series after they routed Brazil 45-7 in the second of four decisive Cup quarter-finals in the 12-team qualifier in Hong Kong.

 

With the temperature on the Shep Kip Mei pitch topping 42 degrees, China, Fiji, France and South Africa all won their quarter-finals to join reigning champions New Zealand, Australia, Canada, England, Russia, Spain and USA on the 2014/15 series.

 

Fiji, who later beat France 24-19 in the final, were the first to grab a place on the 2014/15 series by beating Portugal 28-7 in the opening quarter-final on Saturday.

 

China beat Brazil 45-7 to become the first-ever Asian side to secure core-team status.

China beat Brazil 45-7 to become the first-ever Asian side to secure core-team status.

China – coached by ‘Mack’ Lu Xiaohui since May – then turned on the style as they scored seven tries in a superb exhibition of rugby against a Brazil side who were invited to all five legs of the 2013/14 series, as they prepare to host the 2016 Olympics rugby sevens event.

 

Japan’s bid to join China ended with a 21-12 defeat to France, having been 21-0 down, while South Africa celebrated the fourth and final spot after beating the Netherlands 22-7.

 

Japan were distraught after a 21-12 loss to eventual finalists France.

Japan were distraught after a 21-12 loss to finalists France.

China were one of three Pool A sides to qualify, along with France and South Africa. China went on to lose 21-19 to Fiji in the semi-finals before beating South Africa 12-7 in the third-place playoff.

 

China captain Guan Qishi believes the side, which is dominated by players from Shandong province, could be ready to upset a few of the established teams on the world circuit.

 

“This was really important for Chinese rugby,” Guan told SportAsia. “This is a new squad and we’ve been together for about a year, training in Shandong. I think our main strength is our speed, while our players are also quite big.”

 

Guan said the side’s next focus is on the Asian Games in Incheon, where they will seek to go one better than at Guangzhou 2010, when they lost 17-14 to Kazakhstan in the final.

 

“Now, we’re looking to win the Asian Games, which is also very important for the development of Chinese rugby in the future, for the women especially. If we win the gold, there will be more resources for the players and development, as well as more attention and interest from the public.”

 

Ironically, the China team join the World Series just weeks after it was announced that Guangzhou was dropped as a host venue, after featuring in the first two series. Canada and England are the new host countries in an expanded six-stop circuit, with UAE, Brazil, USA and the Netherlands remaining as host nations.

 

China captain Guan Qishi will now head to her second Asian Games.

China captain Guan Qishi will play in a second Asian Games.

Guan represented China at both editions of the Guangzhou Sevens and says she’s among those keen for it to return, especially with the team now competing on the global circuit.

 

“I think it’s very important to have one tournament in China, because it’s a catalyst for the development and interest in China, but this is out of our control,” said Guan, who was then asked which of the six stops on the upcoming series she was most looking forward to.

 

“Any place … Guangzhou would be best!” she laughed.

 

Hong Kong had narrowly missed out on the quarter-finals after losing 26-19 to Portugal in their final match on Friday, but earned some consolation by winning the Bowl, contested by the bottom four teams.

 

Hong Kong edged Kenya 14-12 in the second Bowl semi-final on Saturday morning before crushing Argentina 26-7 in the final, with former Hong Kong sprinter Aggie Poon and pint-sized flyhalf Candy Cheng each scoring two tries in strength-sapping heat.

 

Hong Kong made up for missing out on the quarter-finals by winning the Bowl.

Hong Kong made up for missing out on the quarter-finals by winning the Bowl with a 26-7 victory over Argentina.

Hong Kong captain Royce Chan said the two performances helped raise spirits after a disappointing pool stage, and also build confidence ahead of the Asian Games.

 

“On the first day, we were pretty lost. We had some tough games, but we lost in terms of concentration. On the second day, we redeemed ourselves, as far as we could, and tried to show what we can do and that we want to compete in the World Series,” Chan said.

 

“I think this has helped all our girls to have more confidence in the big tournaments, because we don’t often have this chance. Now, we’ve had Asian Sevens Series and World Series Qualifier events, so we’ll head to the Asian Games well prepared. We still want to get on the World Series and the more we play these top teams, the more we can improve.”

 

For more information, visit: wsws.irb.com, www.hkrugby.com

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