James Blackwell. Rugby Player.

“My memory of what I was like as a child is very different from what I’ve been told. Mum said I wasn’t the greatest sleeper and always had to be doing something, which kept all of the family on their toes. My younger brother and I grew up in Wellington. We’ve always been very competitive, from when we first played in the back yard and sand pit, right up until now. The only difference now being that when one of us loses, we handle it a lot better.

The major influence on me growing up has definitely been my family. I have a really close bond with all of my family particularly my Mum, Dad and Brother. My Grandparents have also played a big part in my life from a very young age. When my brother was born I spent a lot of time with my Gran and Grandpa, running them around the play ground. I’m very grateful for having them around to support me, and I love it when they watch my games. Family, from my immediate to extended family, has always been very important to me and has helped me get to where I am today.

I have been very lucky throughout my short life to have this great support, especially when facing challenges. Everyone will go through their own challenges in life, and for me it’s been sporting injuries. I have had ongoing stress fractures in my foot which have put me out of action a lot over the past few years. I am grateful that through the support of my friends and family, I have still managed to stay positive and maintain my enjoyment of what I do.

I am very proud of what I have achieved so far. My most recent achievement was being a part of the HURRICANES SUPER RUGBY team which won the 2016 competition. At the start of the season I had the opportunity to be called into the team as an injury replacement. I relished this chance to be in the environment and ended up in the team for the whole season. Although I didn’t play during the season, I was proud and honoured to be involved in such a successful team on and off the field. I learnt a lot from such high quality players and the coaching staff and it has continued my desire to be a part of such a team. I am also very proud of how I have managed to continue my studies through a heavy rugby work load and will continue to work hard at university.

It has taken me three years of study since college to find out what I am interested in pursuing in the future. I started off studying biology and psychology, and although I did like aspects of it, I was looking for something else. Now I find myself at Victoria University in Wellington studying a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Management, with a little bit of Economics and Psychology on the side. With eight papers to go on my degree I have found something I really enjoy and look forward to after rugby.

My advice to my younger self would be really simple and common advice. I would say enjoy being a kid, be curious, try new things, and have fun. When you find something you really like doing, work at it, but always remember to enjoy it. If you miss an opportunity don’t worry about it too much, there will be another one soon enough… and it might not be quite what you expect.”

Thank you James.