by Dan James, Founder & CEO, December 2019
Welcome to the first addition of Chasing Sevens, Tropic Nation’s quarterly commentary on all things Tropics, sports and of course sevens. The purpose of creating this newsletter is to keep those in the Tropic Family in the loop, and up to date - and hopefully provide some mildly entertaining reading while we’re at it.
In this first addition we turn our attention back to last summer and look to recap and review everything that’s gone on in our biggest summer to date, and forward to the new year.
Enjoy, and stay tropical.
‘A SUMMER OF 7S’
Three teams, eight tournaments, ten trophies
by Dan James, December 2019
2019 marks Tropics 7’s fourth year, since being born from the South London Tropics back in 2015. Each year the Tropics have gone from strength to strength both on and off the pitch. It’s seen the addition of many new faces to bear the orange palm tree, including the addition of a women’s team (more about that later), and the men’s second team. It’s also seen the retention of many old faces, some that have risen with the Tropics since day one. Our men’s team has taken a step up into the elite arenas and earning our right to do so; displaying a great brand of attacking, expansive and at times gutsy rugby sevens, adding some big scalps to the trophy cabinet.
Arguably the highlight of 2019 was the Jack Fishwick 7s ‘the Catalina wine mixer’, in local Wimbledon - which saw for the first time in history Tropics field 3 teams. Our Men & Women stepping into the main competitions while the newly formed Barbarians team competing in the social. The day, despite being a little bit wet, was a massive success. 2 out of the 3 teams took home trophies, while our Men’s elite showed massive promise, not only holding their own in the elite competition but turning over some big scalps - while staying true to our open brand of attacking rugby, before going down narrowly at the death in the semi final. We welcomed many new faces to the Tropic family, who will hopefully be returning in 2020, including ex Royal Marine and LDN 7s owner Rich Small as guest coach.
Leeds Jungle 7s: Men, cup 2nd / Women, cup 1st
LDN 7s: Men, plate 1st / Women, cup 2nd
Bournemouth 7s: Men, cup semis / Women, cup 1st
Summer Social: Men, groups
Chester 7s: Men, plate semis / Women, plate 1st
Summer 7s: Women, ‘joint’ cup 1st
Jack Fishwick 7s: Men, cup Semis / Women, plate 1st / Barbarians plate 1st
Harpenden Pub 7s: Men, Cup Semis / Women, groups
Leading the way for Women in Sevens
Perhaps the biggest story in 2019, was the addition of a women’s side to the Tropics 7s roster. Not only that, but an incredibly successful women’s side, that has gone on to achieve big things in their inception including 6 pieces of silverware from 7 outings.
Pulling players from clubs across the UK, including; Leeds University, Northumbria University, Edinburgh University, Leeds Beckett University, Worcester Warriors & Loughborough to name a few - we have boasted a wealth of experience and talent in our first year. As the women’s game has taken off at an international level, we look to emulate that growth here at Tropics:
“In setting up the women’s side, it has been our mission to create the same competitive and social environment the men have, affording women the same opportunity - to play a quality brand of 7s.” - Dan James
This has shown, with both our men’s and women’s teams training together on a regular basis, and the show of support at each other’s games when competing together. In part this has been a testament to the Tropics women’s success, but more so a credit to everyone who’s worn the jersey this year.
As both the men’s, women’s and possible new additions to the Tropics set up gear up for 2020, there are big things to come. More news to follow soon.
‘IN THE NATION’
Outside of actually playing sevens, we’ve been busy. Very busy. 2019 played host to the inaugural year of the Leeds Jungle Sevens. The event facet of our organisation’s first gambit at a large scale sport & music festival. We’ve strengthened old partnerships and fostered new ones and we’ve been setting our sites on new achievements for our social outreach arm, Project Tropic Nation.
Leeds Jungle Sevens
Leeds Jungle Sevens has been in the pipeline for quite some time, and 2019 saw it come to life!
Our first year was a massive success, it saw men’s and women’s rugby sevens team venture over to Leodiensians RFC, in the leafy suburbs of Leeds last Easter Sunday. The sun shone, the drinks flowed and there was superb sport & music on show.
Mayan’s 7s took home the men’s Eiger cup, whilst our own Tropics 7s beat Leeds University women’s and Mayan’s 7s women’s for the women’s Eiger Cup.
Old school DJ’s Utah Saints headlined our evening entertainment, which closed out the Easter bank holiday. As we look to 2020, we are moving to West Park Leeds RUFC, due to it’s bigger and more accessible location. We are currently taking team sign ups, as the festival is looking to come back bigger and better on May 2nd, 2020.
Our very own Chloe Chan from Northumbria University earnt herself international honours for Hong Kong 7s this year. Chloe ran out for her national side in the Olympic in November. Hopefully as well as in Tropics orange we will see her running out in the next Olympics for Hong Kong.
Keeping it up north, some of the Tropics girls from Northumbria University featured in Newcastle Falcons first ever women’s game. In a bid to keep up with the times, the northern rugby franchise will be throwing their lot into the women’s game. We are proud of their achievement, and part to play in making a bit of history for Newcastle rugby.
This month we released the first of a series of short videos around Tropic Nation. The video: Tropic Nation Sports | Tropics 7s, Chapter one: this is sevens centres around the Tropics 7s men’s and women’s squad playing at Harpenden 7s in August. It gives a brief look into the brand and lays the foundation for a video series which will roll out into the new year. A link to the video can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/Tropics7s/videos/537567420421443/.
One of our men’s players, Welsh based Dan Brooks recently raised over £800 for BEAT. This was due to personal experiences dealing with anorexia in someone close to him. In doing so Dan and his girlfriend Holly ran the Cardiff half marathon in October. Not only have they done a great job raising money for the charity, dealing with eating disorders but also helped raise awareness on the subject and wider issues around mental health that feed into those battles with eating disorders.
Project Tropic Nation 2020
As 2020 approaches, we go into the new year with a fresh enthusiasm to tackle some of the challenges that face society today. Across the board there are disenfranchised communities that aren’t served by the practical system in place. On home soil, this could be as a result of austerity measures, failing to fit into the mould of conventional education or simply just because of the limitations sometimes felt from being in a lower economic bracket. We see sport as a great opportunity, not only to get people moving and experiencing it’s short term benefits, but in the long term is a way to empower people.
We believe that empowering people is the key, giving people a hand up - not a hand out. Therefore, we have been devising an education through sports project that seeks to reward participants with help in getting sports coaching qualifications. In that using sport as a tool to help people become part of the system, not just a ward of charity.
To deliver this, we have teamed up with one of our partners Eiger Performance. With their support we will be facilitating the Eiger Leadership award. An award that gives people the opportunity to get their coaching qualification, and the opportunity to work alongside the Project Tropic Nation coaches in delivering our sports projects in an internship role.
As the final details are seen to, we will be rolling the project out in the new year. Alongside our new sports camps that will take place in both London & Leeds. More news to come.
2019/20 Partners news
More so than ever before, our partners have been instrumental in developing the Tropic brand and our achievements. As such it is only right we echo this, and their own news.
We were elated to confirm our headline partner for 2019/20 to be Eiger Performance. Working alongside Guy and Eiger is an essential key for our organisation’s growth. Largely we have been able to develop strategic areas, thanks to Guy’s experiences in both the British military and strategic management at the highest levels of sport with Scottish Rugby and the British and Irish Lions. We have been able to benefit from Eiger’s support as they were the headline sponsor for our first addition of the Leeds Jungle 7s, and on both our men’s and women’s 2019 Tropics 7s playing kit, but perhaps most importantly due to their support for Project Tropic Nation and the development of the Eiger Leadership award (see above). As plans for this are released into the new year, keep your eyes open for some content around the partnership.
In staying true to our social ethos, we have partnered with mental health charity, the Charlie Watkins Foundation. Founded by one of our own Harry Watkins, the foundation works to raise money and awareness around issues of mental health. After Harry tragically lost his brother to an unknown battle, with mental health Harry took it upon himself to do something about the ongoing epidemic. Together alongside the Charlie Watkins Foundation we will be doing our bit to raise awareness around the issues of mental health and will be fundraising for them in the new year. You can find out more about the Charlie Watkins Foundation and their work here: https://www.cwfoundation.co.uk/.
This year saw us renew our partnership with Thameside Brewery, our first ever partner. It has been great to work with them again, they have been a fantastic supporter of our men’s team to date, especially as this year they opened their tap room. Overlooking the River Thames in Staines, Surrey it plays perfect host to an afternoon pint of their own ale; as well as the perfect setting for our end of season social in August.
2019 has seen the tireless work of our Head coach and S&C Boris Pineles of GymBodz S&C continue. Boris successfully managed our men’s and women’s teams throughout the summer, occasionally getting on the pitch himself too. Thanks to Boris we have been able to offer our players professional athletic development before and during the season, working on the most technical elements of the team’s game. Boris has played a huge role in the set ups achievements this year and we look forward to working with him in 2020. We also congratulate him for the work he did in Dubai just gone, as he assisted the TLX scorpions to a successful Dubai 7s campaign as team physio/support.
For another year we have been lucky enough to call Tribe Perform our home in training. Each London based training has been based out of Tribes performance gym in Richmond, London. The absolutely top flight facilities have offered a flexible space that has fitted our needs on many occasions. Stu has been incredibly accommodating for our sessions there, and we look forward to sessions there in the future.
This year’s kit provided by Raging Bull has been the best yet; and arguably left the Tropics one of the best stashed on the sevens circuit. Watch this space for more kit in 2020, and our new off-field range.
Thank you for reading the first addition of, Chasing Sevens; a Quarterly Commentary. Keep your eyes open for the next addition and updates online.