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Hard work pays off as China claim final Olympic ticket

By Martyn Thomas
MONACO - JUNE 23: Players of China Women's National Team celebrate the qualification for the Games of the XXXIIi Olympiad during day three of the World Rugby Sevens Repechage - final match between China and Kenya on June 23, 2024 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Chen Keyi joked her China team-mates needed a “holiday” after they became the 12th and final women’s team to secure Olympic qualification in Monaco on Sunday.

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Having sealed promotion to HSBC SVNS 2025 in Madrid earlier this month, China went into the World Rugby Sevens Repechage as favourites to book the final ticket to Paris 2024.

The team’s high-performance consultant Sir Gordon Tietjens had warned the players not to take anything for granted at Stade Louis II, and they heeded his advice to rattle off six victories by an aggregate score of 214-19.

It caps a brilliant six months for the team, who won tournaments in Dubai, Montevideo, Krakow and now Monaco – as well as emerging from the HSBC SVNS Play-off in Madrid – to complete their dual aims of world series and Olympic qualification.

Olympic Sevens

Having remained in Europe since the SVNS Play-off, the team will return to China for some rest before travelling to the French capital to compete in their second Games.

Chen scored 27 points in six matches as China made their Olympic debut in Tokyo three years ago and she remains an important cog in Lu Zhuan’s side.

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It was the second of her two tries in the final against Kenya that gave China the lead early in the second half in Monaco, and the team didn’t look back to ease to a 24-7 victory against the Lionesses.

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

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Chen added: “[Time for] a holiday for us I think… We want to go home and see our parents and friends. See you in Paris!”

China back Liu Xiaoqian was part of the team that failed to qualify from the 2016 repechage in Dublin, and then helped them to the Cup quarter-finals in Tokyo five years later.

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Her weekend in Monaco began with a hat-trick in the 55-0 win against Mexico and she ended the tournament with six tries to her name.

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

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.

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