China and Japan will compete in this weekend’s Kitakyushu Sevens, the third round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
For China, it is a first opportunity to play alongside the top nations after their victory in Hong Kong saw them qualify for the 2018/19 series.
“Things went very well for us in the Hong Kong qualifiers,” said captain Yan Meiling.
“It was a great boost of confidence for our team and we’re very excited to be able to join the World Series from next year.
“Our aim in Kitakyushu this weekend is to achieve our personal best, we want to prove to ourselves what we can do.”
With China now on the series, they will also take part in Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, and the Asia Rugby Sevens Series later this year – a boost for the nation.
“We have a lot of expectations for ourselves,” added Meiling.
“With us being part of the World Series we think this could spread the interest for rugby in China and increase the understanding of rugby in our country.”
Hosts Japan, who currently lie 12th in the series standings with their place on the series in jeopardy with just three points from the opening two rounds in Dubai and Sydney.
But a good performance on home soil could catapult them up the ladder and closer to the safety of another season on the series.
“It’s really important for us to compete here in Japan,” said captain Chiharu Nakamura.
“Our goal here is to get into the top eight. It is very important to move on in this series.
“The most important thing is to get into the top eight, and we want to show the people of Kitakyushu our pride.
“For us to be able to compete in the Olympic Games in 2020, it is vital for us to reach the top eight.”
Japan will play New Zealand, France and the USA, while China face matches against Australia, Spain and Ireland.