China’s failure to qualify ‘a worry’
Top International Rugby Board official Bernard Lapasset expressed dismay at China's failure to qualify for the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow and promised to support the mainland as they look ahead to the 2016 Olympics, when sevens will be a medal sport for the first time.
"It is disappointing that China's men's team failed to qualify. That is the bad news. The good news is that at least we will see the Chinese women's team in Moscow," the IRB chairman said.
The China women's team qualified for their second World Cup Sevens - they played four years ago at the tournament in Dubai - at the Asian qualifying event in Pune, India, last month. But the men's team bowed out at the fourth and final leg of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series in Singapore on Saturday, losing 26-5 to Sri Lanka in the Plate competition final.
China coach Johnny Zhang Zhiqiang said none of the PLA players was available as they were not released by the army to play overseas.
China only fielded a full-strength team at this season's Shanghai Sevens, where they reached the Cup final before losing to Hong Kong.
"We need to talk to the China Rugby Union and see what can be done in the future whereby the national team are able to field their best squad including the army players," said Lapasset.
Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines finished in the top three in the 12-team tournament in Singapore and qualified for the World Cup Sevens in Moscow next June.
"What China must realise is that it is not good for their image when they lose in events like this and fail to qualify [for major international events]," Lapasset said. "We need to change that. The IRB will try to help, and convince the China Rugby Union and other authorities that they have to field their best side at all times at the international level."
China will also miss the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in March after failing to finish in the top three in the Asian sevens rankings.