The hopes and dreams of rugby fans all over the country were dashed last month as host nation England made a dramatic early exit from this year’s Rugby World Cup.
However, in Cuckfield spirits have been lifted by the success of the country’s under 20s squad and, in particular, local hero James Chisholm whose stunning performance led the team to victory in the Six Nations Championship.
James, who grew up in Cuckfield, was crowned Man of the Match following the historic game – the first to be played at Brighton’s Amex stadium – and went on to lead the team to the World Cup final in Italy.
It’s been a remarkable year for the 19 year old, who first picked up a rugby ball on Whiteman’s Green at just four years old!
By Claire Cooper
A talent for sport certainly runs in the Chisholm family and James, the youngest of three brothers, was kicking a ball from an early age.
“Dad had a couple of years as a professional footballer with Everton and went on to coach the England U18 team, so I played a lot of football,” said James. But instead of following in his father’s footsteps, James was encouraged to try other sports.
“Dad and mum wanted their boys to play a sport they knew nothing about so they could have no influence over it,” James added. “I joined Haywards Heath Rugby Club at Whitemans Green and was hooked! Rugby was always my favourite game – I was never very good at football!”
A student at Warden Park Academy, James’ talent for rugby was soon recognised and he was selected to captain the school team. He also excelled at field sports and became Sussex U18 high jump champion.
In 2010 James had his first taste of success when Warden Park Under 15s reached the quarter-finals of the Daily Mail Schools’ w Cup. “We took on Wellington College and lost by five points but felt we should have won,” James recalled.
“It was the best run the school had ever had and it was very upsetting at the time because it could have been us playing at Twickenham in the final. We went to watch but felt it should have been us instead.”
After leaving Warden Park, James studied biology, physical education and a BTEC in Sport at Brighton College, where he also became captain of the first XV rugby team.
Read the full story in the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Cuckfield Life magazine