This weekend the Mighty Oaks travel to old Kent rivals Gravesend for what is sure to be a mouth-watering contest. And the match on Saturday will signify a special moment for one Mighty Oak as Simon Tree makes his 100th 1st XV league appearance for the Club. The centre, who has been a magnificent servant to the club since making his debut over ten years ago, talked this week of the first time he pulled on the navy blue and gold shirt for the First XV and also commented on the experience and honour of making 100 1st XV league appearances for the club, as well as his excitement of helping the club achieve more in the future.
“I can't remember the date of my debut but the game was Dorking RFC away and it was a very tough game. I think we were on the wrong side of a 50 point score line but never the less I still enjoyed my first experience of 1st XV rugby.’
‘It's been an honour and great experience playing for such a fantastic club from under 13's through to playing for the 1st XV. I've experienced some good seasons where we just lost out to Hove and TJ's for promotion. There were some tough seasons were we have had to scrap it out at the bottom for relegation to which we just survived and some great seasons like last year wining promotion to London South East 1 which was a huge joy and relief for me after having played 10 years of rugby in London South East 2.’
‘I did wonder if I'd ever make 100 caps and I'm grateful I have had the opportunity to accomplish this. I get to join a list of great players past and present within the club. Now I'm looking forward to the tough physical challenge in London 1 and helping the team create a good platform establishing ourselves in a tough league to which we aim to maintain and then progress from within the near future.’
His commitment to the Club has been recognised not only by his current and former team mates, but by long standing supporters including current Director of Rugby Roger McKerlie who said ‘Simon Tree is the perfect embodiment of what Sevenoaks Rugby is all about. One of our own, he has been a loyal club man and a hell of an effective player too. As the 1st team has risen up the rankings, Si has competed successfully for a place in the squad, performing superbly and answering all of the calls from the coaches whilst getting better with age! Roll on his 150th cap!!’
Known by his fellow team mates and Oaks supporters as a player who rarely misses a tackle and is a hard line runner, Simon is comfortable at both inside or outside of the defensive line whilst his team mates are able to put full trust in him confident he will bring down any player, no matter the size, that runs in his defensive channel.
One man who experienced this first hand whilst playing alongside Tree is now Senior Backs Coach Matt Bates who was full of praise for his former team mate “ Treeman and I started in the Senior set up at roughly the same time - initially in the 2s and then onto the 1s and I have been lucky enough to share the field with him on quite a few occasions. He's a brilliant team mate - when I played with him I always knew I could rely on him. He would get me out of trouble on a number of occasions - either scooping up my dodgy pass or covering my missed tackle! He's a true team man and you won't find a man more committed to the team cause.’
‘It’s great to see him get his 100th cap. I think his 99th was arguably one of his best games in an Oaks shirt so no doubt he'll be adding a few more to the 100th over the next few years - I'm sure he has Guy McLaughlin's number in sight!”
And as a player that has contributed as much off the field as well as on it, Club Chairman Trevor Nicholson was full hearty in his praise for the man will becomes part of an small group as only 14 players have reached the 100 appearance landmark. “It’s fantastic to see a loyal club man like Simon Tree win his 100th league cap for Sevenoaks 1st XV. Treeman is a great example of the team ethic that has been flowing through the club for the last few seasons. In good times and bad, socially and on the field, when quality players with both physical and mental toughness really stand up to be counted, Treeman has more than answered the call.
His determination and effectiveness has actually increased this season, despite, or maybe because of, the team playing at the higher level of London 1. Well played Treeman- many more to come!”
A true Mighty Oak, the Club wishes Simon the very best of luck for his 100th appearance on Saturday – enjoy and savour it!
Oaks 1st XV are back in league action this weekend with a 3pm kick off away at Gravesend, whilst the 2s play Medway away also in the Invicta Cup at 2pm. The 3s face Cliffe at the Paddock at 3pm.