China have made a triumphant return to test rugby by winning the Asia Rugby Women's Championship Division I title with an emphatic 68-0 victory over their hosts the Philippines in the final, but India also had cause to celebrate after recording their first ever test victory, 21-19 over Singapore.
China, playing their first internationals since 2011 in this competition, will now progress to a play-off with Kazakhstan in the coming months, which will double as a Women's Rugby World Cup 2021 qualifier with the winner promoted to the Asia Rugby Women's Championship in 2020. That competition next year will see one team qualify directly for WRWC 2021 in New Zealand.
Chen Yuqian opened the scoring in the final, only days after scoring a hat-trick in their 59-17 win over Singapore earlier in the week as China returned to international 15s in style.
YuanYua Lu then showed excellent speed and power for their second before Yan Zhou and Weiyan Wang added further tries as China took a healthy lead into the break.
China kept the scoreboard ticking over in the second half as their bench impressed with replacement Zhaoxue Zhai crossing twice to ensure the title for her side.
World Rugby Council Member and Philippines hooker Ada Milby was proud of her side despite the defeat.
“China were a really strong side, and I wish them well on the pathway to Women’s Rugby World Cup” explained Milby. “I am proud of our girls, though, we fought right until the end. I am also proud of the fans who stuck with us throughout.
“It was not the result we wanted but it was a great tournament to be a part of. I also want to congratulate India on their first win.”
History for India
India, playing only their fourth test match, bounced back from the disappointment of a narrow 32-27 loss to the Philippines in the semi-finals to beat Singapore at Southern Plains Stadium.
In an enthralling match, India scrum-half Sumitra Nayak kicked a penalty to claim the narrow victory in the dying minutes.
With Singapore knocking on with less than three minutes to go, India eventually ran the ball into touch to spark emotional celebrations on the sidelines as they finished third in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship Division I.
Sweety Kumari continued her fine form in the tournament, scoring two first-half tries to set India on the way to victory after her two tries in their defeat to the Philippines.
Singapore hit back, however, with two tries of their own, but a third from India left the scores at 15-12.
India’s captain Vahbiz Bharucha then opted for a penalty which was successfully converted by Nayak before Annabel Woo Xui Ni scored her second try of the match to give Singapore the lead for the first time.