Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

The English Adventure of Cunningham-South Influenced by Father's WhatsApp Feedbacks
Rugby union Sport

The English Adventure of Cunningham-South Influenced by Father’s WhatsApp Feedbacks

Chandler Cunningham-South’s rapid rise to international rugby has caught even the 20-year-old by surprise but, for all the high-profile coaches he has crossed paths with in a short space of time, the England flanker’s toughest critic is on the other side of the world in New Zealand: his father.

After making his debut for England against Italy, Cunningham-South was highly praised, with Sam Warburton describing him as “the real deal”. It seems he has a bright future ahead at the highest level, but he remains humble and grounded thanks to consistent feedback from his family back home on areas for improvement. When asked if his father still critiques him, Cunningham-South confirms with a smile that this is still the case.

Before and after the game, he sends me my updates so he advises me on what I should be doing. It’s sent through WhatsApp and it’s structured like a script – you have to click to see more. It’s all positive, encouraging information and it’s extremely beneficial.

“He’s got a pretty decent rugby head. He used to coach me when I was young, for my last year before I went to high school so he has got a little bit.”

Who is more critical: the coaches for the England team or the player’s father? According to the player, it’s his father who is more critical, even though he only played a little. The recent game did not have a report, so it’s uncertain if that’s a positive thing or not. In previous games, the feedback was to continue making an impact and working hard.

Cunningham-South has successfully followed that guidance. His performance in three instances as a substitute has attracted attention in a highly significant competition, a stark contrast from his position two years ago.

After being denied by the Crusaders in New Zealand, where he lived and grew up since he was four years old (after moving from Sidcup), Cunningham-South took a risk and attempted to pursue a career in English rugby. “At 18 years old, I was playing at Lincoln University [near Christchurch]. I hoped to be a part of an academy but that never came to be,” he recalls.

“The Crusaders’ academy was unable to accommodate me, so I reached out to an agent who put together a highlight reel for me and began exploring other options. This led to an opportunity with the London Irish academy in England, and things have been progressing rapidly ever since I arrived.”

Cunningham-South’s short career has been filled with many accomplishments. In 2022, he was afforded a opportunity by the Irish, but unfortunately their well-known financial struggles affected him. This led him to be without a team until Harlequins signed him on last summer. Despite this setback, he considers his year with the Irish to be one of his most influential moments in both his playing career and personal life.

Chandler Cunningham-South runs into a tackle during England’s win over Wales.

Please maximize the image.

The individual states that all of the coaching personnel at the location were fantastic. They specifically mention John Fisher, Les Kiss, and Declan Kidney as being exceptionally helpful and good individuals who provided a lot of assistance.

“They played a significant role in my development, both professionally and personally. At 18 years old, it wasn’t just about coaching – they also supported me on a personal level, ensuring my well-being.”

Ignore the advertisement for the newsletter.

After progressing rapidly, does he struggle with the loudness and excitement that come with games like the Calcutta Cup last Saturday? “I enjoy it,” he responds with a grin. “Especially when we arrived in Edinburgh and stepped off the bus. All the teasing and cheering – that kind of thing motivates me and gives me an added boost of energy.”

“Playing at Twickenham is an incredible experience. The atmosphere is electric and the fans are extremely passionate. It is a fantastic venue to compete at.”

Cunningham-South acknowledges that he still has much to learn, having not experienced a full-time setting until the age of 18. This is a scary realization, considering his impressive performances in the England National Team thus far.

“I have not been able to take a break and contemplate. I must continue to focus on what is ahead,” he states. “I did not fully comprehend the level of intricacy involved in the professional game, and we did not extensively analyze during my time at university. Attending meetings and discussing these elements was quite surprising.”

His journey has come a long way from the time he was turned away by New Zealand’s academies. It is believed that his story is far from over and still holds a lot of potential. His parents will be making the trip from their farm in Wellsford, located north of Auckland, to watch him in Saturday’s game against Ireland. This means that his post-game critique with his father will be done in person, rather than over the phone. Based on his performance so far, it is unlikely that the review will be too critical.

Source: theguardian.com