China and South Africa qualify for Paris 2024 Rugby Sevens. WORLD RUGBY

China's women and South Africa's men teams secured the twelfth and final places to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympic Rugby Sevens by winning the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco on Sunday.

In the presence of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco, there were scenes of euphoria and heartbreak on Olympic Day at the Stade Louis II on Olympic Day as Parisian dreams were either realised or sadly shattered. 

South Africa defeated Great Britain 14-5 in a thrilling men's final to claim the final men's qualifying spot at the Paris Olympics. In a game in which all the points were scored in the first half, the 'Blitzboks' were resolute in defence and held off a late Great Britain rally to book their place on the plane to Paris. Canada and Spain missed out after losing in the semi-finals, but Spain ended the weekend with some pride as they won 31-14 to finish third, according to World Rugby.

China booked their place in the women's final in Paris with a 24-7 victory over Kenya in the final, continuing their recent run of outstanding results. In an unbeaten weekend, the Asians defeated Paraguay 31-0 and Poland 40-7 on the final day to reach the final, with four tries, including a brace from Chen Keyi, helping them beat Kenya for their 27th win of the season. 

Kenya, the only team to beat China in the HSBC Challenger Series this season, had beaten Argentina and the Czech Republic before falling agonisingly short in the final, while Poland ended their weekend on a high as they claimed bronze with a 33-14 win over the Czechs. 

The Blitzboks have secured the final place in the men's rugby sevens competition for Paris 2024. WORLD RUGBY
The Blitzboks have secured the final place in the men's rugby sevens competition for Paris 2024. WORLD RUGBY

South Africa's Tristan Leyds said, "It's a very special group we've got here, just to cherish the moment, that's what we live for. There's been a lot of pressure from the outside, people back home get disappointed [when we don't perform], but we kept the group tight and it paid off, we qualified for Paris. 

"To them, thank you for supporting us and believing in us, we will take that energy to Paris. We have some very special youngsters in our team and they have made us proud this week," added Rosko Specman. The Olympic Games are the greatest sporting event in the world. It's very special to play at the Olympics. 

China's Chen Keyi said, "We feel really good, we are so excited to go to Paris. We deserve it, we work so hard for each other, on and off the pitch. It is time for us to take a holiday. We want to go home and see our parents and friends. See you in Paris!" "We are so proud of ourselves, of our teammates and of our coaches," added Liu Xiaoqian. 

Rugby Sevens is proving to be one of the most eagerly anticipated events of Paris 2024, following the outstanding success of Rugby World Cup 2023 in France, and the sport will have the honour of kicking off the Games in Paris on 24 July, two days before the Opening Ceremony. The men's competition will take place from 24-27 July, followed by the women's tournament from 28-30 July. With the Olympic line-ups now complete, the Paris 2024 pools will be announced later on Sunday in Monaco. 

In the men's competition, hosts France will be joined by New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji and Australia, who qualified for Paris by finishing in the top four of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023, as well as six regional qualifiers - Uruguay (South America), Ireland (Europe), USA (North America), Kenya (Africa), Samoa (Oceania) and Japan (Asia) - and repechage winners South Africa. 

In the women's Olympic competition, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the USA will join hosts France as the top four qualifiers for the 2023 World Series. They will be joined by Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, Fiji and Japan as the winners of the regional qualifiers, as well as repechage champions China. 

Fiji's men have dominated Olympic competition to date, winning back-to-back gold medals on their debut at Rio 2016 and again in Tokyo five years later. New Zealand are the reigning women's Olympic champions and Australia won the first women's Olympic gold medal in Rio. 

The inclusion of Rugby Sevens in the Olympic Games at Rio 2016 had a profound effect on the sport, attracting an estimated 30 million new fans. The Olympic Games are part of a hugely exciting year for the sport, with the revitalised HSBC SVNS providing an incredible spectacle with a series of seven events leading up to a Grand Final in Madrid, where France men and Australia women were crowned inaugural SVNS Champions, while Argentina Men and New Zealand won the League. 

China to play in Paris 2024 women's Rugby Sevens tournament. WORLD RUGBY
China to play in Paris 2024 women's Rugby Sevens tournament. WORLD RUGBY

World Rugby Chief Competitions & Performance Officer Nigel Cass said, "Congratulations to China Women and South Africa Men for booking their tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the end of a highly competitive and entertaining World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco. 

"Our deepest thanks and gratitude go to Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco and the Monegasque Rugby Federation for hosting this Olympic qualifier for the third consecutive year. Rugby Sevens will bring a party atmosphere to the start of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with a vibrant and passionate crowd alongside the incredible skill, speed and power on show on the pitch from some of the world's most impressive athletes. 

"The spotlight will be on rugby sevens like never before, as our sport has the honour of kicking off the Games two days before the Opening Ceremony, and men's rugby sevens will be the first team sport gold medal on 27 July. We can't wait for the Games to begin and for Rugby Sevens to take centre stage at the Stade de France.