I’ve loved every minute of it

I've loved every minute of it

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For a 20-year-old, Chandler Cunningham-South has lived quite a life. Born in England, he moved to New Zealand at the age of four, only to return to his native country at 18 to pursue his dream of playing rugby.

He caught the bug for professional sport whilst at University in New Zealand, but limited opportunities within professional academies meant he had to look elsewhere to get the shot he wanted.

“I was 18 at Lincoln University (in New Zealand),” he said. “I was playing down there and I wanted to be in an academy set up; but nothing came to fruition at the Crusaders Academy, they didn’t have a place to me.”

“Then I got in touch with an agent who got a highlight reel together and then started to look elsewhere. I got the opportunity over in England, and then it’s all happened pretty quickly.”

His personal life has been a crazy journey, and his career has followed suit. Following his arrival back in England, he was snapped up by London Irish; and his form for the Exiles earned him a call-up to the England U20s team. Fast forward a year though, and the powerful back-rower is plying his trade in the quarters of Harlequins and more importantly is now a fully capped international.  

“I haven’t really had a chance to stop and reflect,” he admitted. “I feel like I keep looking forward and to what’s next, I don’t really like to look back and dwell on stuff that’s happened.”

“Obviously lots of good things have happened and lots of bad things have happened, but I think it’s all happened for the right reasons. I’m just happy and grateful for that.”

All of these events happening so early in his life have meant he’s needed to grow up quickly, but he feels like his former employers really helped him come out of his shell, which helped him settle quickly into life in England.  

“London Irish helped me a lot, both with the professional side and even as a person. I was only 18 when I joined; they had to do a lot. It wasn’t just coaching they had to do, they almost had to be helping me out on a personal level as well like making sure I was okay and enjoying myself.”

“It’s not meant to be easy moving over at that age. I was a little bit homesick at first, but then when you’re busy you’re working hard and you’re having fun with new friends, it sort of gets pushed to the back of your head and then the time just goes quick.

“I’ve been here almost three years now and time’s flown by. I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Cunningham-South has certainly settled well into life in England. His performances for both London Irish and Harlequins have seen him earn high praise from much of the rugby public in England, however he’s admitted there is one person in particular he aims to please.

“Pre and post-game I get reports from my Dad, he tells me what I should be doing,” the back-rower revealed.

“I get them over WhatsApp, it’s like a script basically; you’ve got to click ‘read more’. He used to coach me when I was young, he’s probably not as good as the coaches here but he’s alright.”

Written by Louis Chapman-Coombe

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