The Jamaican 7s squad, dubbed the Crocs, are one of the up and coming competitors on the world 7s scene. One of the unsung heroes of Jamaican rugby, who devoted his life to the development of 7s in Jamaica, is a man named Sergeant Jacob Thompson. We’d like to honor him today as part of a series on Black History Month seen through a rugby lens.
Veterans of the Rockaway 7s tournament will remember Thompson as the boisterous and enthusiastic manager that brought an U-19s team from Jamaica each summer and proved to be fierce competitors. These were young men from the most troubled districts of Jamaica, where Thompson sought to use rugby as an alternative to allure of gang life.
Thompson started playing Rugby while studying in England in the late 1960s at the School of Electrical Engineers and, upon his return to Jamaica in the early 1970s, he promoted the game to the cadet corps while at the Jamaica Defence Force.
He represented Jamaica as a player in 1974-75 playing against the Cayman Islands and Venezuela, has managed three clubs and was the first to take teams from Jamaica to the United States.
Thompson started his personal mission by coaching four inner city schools: Vauxhall, Tivoli, Kingston Technical and Denham Town; and focused heavily on youth rugby during his 35 years of service to Jamaica and to rugby.
He has been the Chairman of the Jamaica Rugby Union since 1999, and was appointed Vice-President of West Indies Rugby Union from the period 2005-2007. In 2007 he was selected as an Executive Committee Member of WIRU.
Under his stewardship, Jamaica has managed to win all regional titles from U16 to Senior Men and Women. Most recently the under 19 team retained its West Indies title, and has thus qualified for the IRB World Under 20 Trophy in 2008. In the years since, Jamaica 7s has made massive strides, appearing at the 2018 RWC 7s in San Francisco, competing at the Hong Kong 7s, and challenging for a spot at the Olympics.
Thompson’s relentless drive and leadership has carried the Jamaica Rugby Union and its coaches, referees, administrative staff, Rugby development officers and players to the highest levels in the West Indies region.
In 2007, Thompson’s crowning moment came when the IRB (now World Rugby) recognized his work with the IRB Development Award.
Tragically, Jacob Thompson was murdered in his home in 2009.
He’ll be remembered as outspoken, never afraid to speak his mind, and for his determination to both put Jamaican rugby on the map and to change the perception of rugby as an elitist sport reserved for ex-pats.
Jacob, we see you and we thank you and may your rest in power.