Jamaican gets IRB Development Award

Jacob Thompson, Chairman of the Jamaica Rugby Union, has been awarded the 2007 IRB’s Development Award, the highest such honour world-wide this year.

The award represents another big for the North America And West Indies Rugby Association (NAW-IRA) following Mike Luke’s 2006 win.

According to a release from NAWIRA, Thompson is credited with many achievements in the sport in his native Jamaica.

He 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 (JDF), the release pointed out.

Thompson, the release stated, recognized the potential for Rugby to spread in the high school system and he also started his personal mission by coaching four inner city schools: Vauxhall, Tivoli, Kingston Technical and Denham Town.

Thompson, who represented Jamaica as a player in1974-75 playing against the Cayman Islands and Venezuela, has managed three clubs and was the first to take teams from Jamaica to the United States where they performed successfully at the New Jersey and Rhode Island Sevens.

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.

According to the release 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. He has given over 35 years to his Country and the Union.

“Jacob Thompson is today’s embodiment of Jamaican Rugby. Soon he will step down from his leadership role, and hand the responsibilities on to the talented group of young Jamaicans he has gathered into the Union. But whatever the future may hold for his cherished Country and Union, nothing will ever compare to the massive commitment he has given to his people, and to Rugby in Jamaica,” the release stated.

Meanwhile Kit Nascimento, President of the West Indies Rugby Union (WIRU) and representing the North American and West Indies Rugby Association (NAWIRA), and Noel Adonis, President of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU), attended the recently concluded Rugby World Cup in Paris, France, as guests of the International Rugby Board. They also attended the IRB Awards Dinner as guests of the Rugby World Cup Organising Committee.

The IRB Awards Dinner, 2007, held at the Pavillion d’Armenonville, in Paris, is Rugby’s most prestigious annual awards event, recognising the Player of the Year, Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Sevens Player and Team of the Year, Under 19 Player of the Year and Try of the Year.

Awards are also made for exceptional and distinguished service to the game in a number of other categories for the Spirit of Rugby, Special Merit, Women’s Personality of the Year, IRB Referee Award for Distinguished Service, the Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service and the IRB Development Award.

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