Left to right: Tom Dowding, Rob Coote, Sam Blanchet, Hamish Smales (alum)

Left to right: Tom Dowding, Rob Coote, Sam Blanchet, Hamish Smales won gold with Great Britain at the World University Rugby 7s Championships.

EURFC power to GB 7s victory

Current and former University of Exeter Rugby players have helped power Great Britain to a second consecutive FISU World University 7s title.

Third year student Rob Coote (Engineering) joined squad alumni Tom Dowding (Geography, 2013), Sam Blanchet (Engineering, 2013) and Hamish Smales (Business and Management, 2009) in the side who travelled to San Jose dos Campos, Brazil for the tournament.

Despite a mixed start, victories against Namibia, Japan and Brazil saw the team reach the finals against Belgium on 10 August.

A try from University first team Centre Coote saw Britain fight back from 7:0 down against the Belgians, two further tries from Ruaridh McConnochie sealing a 17:7 victory.

University of Exeter Director of Rugby Keith Fleming commented: “I’m really pleased for the boys. We’ve been really building the rugby programme at Exeter for four years now and we’re beginning to see the fruits of this work. Competing internationally is another level of rugby, so to have three players selected for Great Britain shows the quality we have coming through.

“Hamish's heart has always been with rugby sevens and he's a very strong player, Tom holds the University record for the most number of tries scored in one game (eight), Sam is already heavily involved in the England 7s squad and Rob's excellent rugby brain has seen him compete for England students.

“They all deserve to be very proud of their achievements.”

The University of Exeter has a successful history in the tournament with Luke Treharne joining the 2012 Championship winning side in Brive-la-Gaillarde, France.

Now in the midst of pre-season training, the Men’s Rugby Club are looking to use these successes to push them through to British Universities and Colleges Sport glory.

Keith added: “We’ve cemented our position as a top four University institution and are seeing increasing numbers of players get professional and international call-ups.

“It’s particularly great for Rob who’ll be competing for the University again next season. We’ll be looking to him as a senior player and leader to pass his international experience onto the rest of the club.

“It’s great for the club that these players are being recognised, it makes us stronger as a team and shows our newer players what is possible if they put the effort in.”

Date: 14 August 2014

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