Great Britain and St Mary’s University star Samir Kharbouch admitted he was full of pride after his side fell agonizingly short of glory at the World University Championship Rugby Sevens in Swansea.
Great Britain’s students were moments away from a third successive title – after wins in 2012 and 2014 – but fell to a last-minute try by Australian captain Conor Mitchell as they succumbed to a 24-20 final defeat.
Globally the event has been a breeding ground for future stars, including current England Sevens captain Tom Mitchell, who won a gold medal for Great Britain’s students in Brive in 2012 and could also feature for Team GB at Rio 2016.
James Farndon’s side had toughed out a 10-7 win over France in the semi-finals thanks to tries from Charles Kingham and Patrick Jenkinson after finishing second in Pool A, but fell agonizingly short against the Uniroos in front of an adoring crowd at Swansea University.
Kharbouch, originally from Reading, could not contain his heartache after the nail-biting loss, but was happy to finish second at such a prestigious tournament alongside St Mary’s colleague Jack Rossiter.
“We knew that there were bits of our game that we needed to improve upon from the first game, but we really felt like it was a winnable match,” the 22-year-old said.
“All respect to Australia, it was a great match.
“The only pressure on us was the pressure we put on ourselves, we put ourselves under pressure to try and win every game.
“We were quietly confident, we had a hard week’s training and we have really enjoyed getting to know each other, we had worked hard and just wanted to perform.”
Great Britain were meeting Australia for the second time in two days, having lost 19-12 in their Pool A clash, but Farndon’s men rebounded well with a 31-5 win against Namibia before securing a shot at redemption in the final with victory over Les Bleus.
Patrick Jenkinson and Christopher Levesley gave the Brits an early 10-0 advantage in the final but Thomas Merrit, Fred Dorrough and Lachlan Anderson fired the Aussies into a 19-10 half-time lead.
Captain Samuel Pointon and James Beal ensured the hosts were 20-19 ahead by the time the hooter sounded, but it was Mitchell who had the final say.
And despite the cruel loss Kharbouch said he was simply happy to have plied his trade with the world’s best student athletes.
He said: “We were tested by Italy and Namibia, we did well to get the win against France, but it was heart-breaking to lose in the final.
“To win in a GB shirt would have meant a hell of a lot, being able to call yourself a World Champion would be a dream come true.
“The home support in Swansea was brilliant, even after the final we got a hero’s reception and we were treated incredibly all week.”
The World University Championships are part of the sporting events of the International University Sports Federation. #WUCRugby7s2016 sees over 19 teams from 14 nations competing in a three day competition. For more information visit http://wucrugby2016.com/