We interviewed England and London Wasps Rugby Player James Haskell about his career, who his role models are and how James’ dad supported his career. James plays in the back row and has over 50 England Caps for his country.
James talks to us a little about his England rugby career to date...
I still want to play for England and am massively keen to be involved. It is difficult once you are outside the set-up to get back in; there is a lot of competition. Hopefully I can get an opportunity with the Saxons, keep playing well, being consistent, doing a good job with your club and hopefully the opportunities will follow. I am desperate to play for England again; I haven’t given up on it. Hopefully I’ll make some breaks, put in some hits and get some stand-out moments. I got fifty caps doing what I was doing so I need to be fit and ready and hopefully get another chance.
How did you get into rugby?
I started playing rugby when I was five years old. I joined Maidenhead Rugby Club. My mum lied about my age to get me and my dad out of the house and involved in the junior set-up. My dad and I enjoyed a father and son bond whilst I played rugby and he got to socialise over a pint. I progressed through the ages and played for London Wasps. I have also played for Stade Frances in Paris, for the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan and the Highlanders in Super 15. The highlight of my career has been playing 50 caps for England.
Tell us about your dad and early days?
My dad has always been a hard-working businessman, being self-employed: he has run several businesses. I’m very lucky that my mum and dad are still together and they have given me every opportunity in life. I went to Wellington College and got to experience everything there, every sport, combined cadet force (CCF), plays and even played on the chess team, (1-0 unbeaten James told us with some pride!).
You have followed in your dad’s entrepreneurial footsteps...
I have tried to develop some business opportunities and have created a shooting business which has provided a link to Musto- the sailing and outdoor brand. I have also developed a sports training and fitness business called JH Bodyfire. I know that rugby can be a very short career, so I am keen to develop things for life after rugby.
Some people think that I am overly commercialised and I have been criticised for this. I am fully committed to rugby, it is my priority, but the business stuff also interests and motivates me. When I go home, I prefer to channel my efforts into business and developing new things for the future. I think I have a bit of my dad’s workaholic tendencies.
What are your other interests?
I love boxing and martial arts such as Jui Jitsu, I am considering spending ten to twelve years to achieve a black-belt. I don’t mind committing myself to that.
When I look at books, there are lots of things I want to do and places I want to visit.
Who has been a role model to you?
Well, I loved rugby before I got to play with my role models. I was so lucky to be around great players who were so approachable. I met people in the bar afterwards like Lawrence Dallaglio, Trevor Leota, Josh Lewsey and others. They have motivated and inspired me.
More recently, my role models have been guys like Richie McCaw and Kieran Read, even though they are a similar age, I feel like I can learn things from their games, I massively respect and admire them.
As my career has developed, I am beginning to feel older: I am perhaps half way through my career at only twenty-eight, so I am now looking at other role models who I can benchmark myself against.
In business, I look at people who inspire me and how they operate: they encourage me to develop new skills and ideas.
You have to look no further than Mick Jagger, at 68 he is still touring and doing two hour gigs and still dominating.
Even Arnie, here was a guy who was an Austrian Weight Lifter, who become a global movie star and then governor of one of the biggest US States. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
James is an ambassador for Musto Shooting and outdoor clothing and runs his business JH Bodyfire.