CHATTERIS: Deaf rugby player has gained six caps for England

PUBLISHED: 15:47 22 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 June 2010

DEAF rugby player Charlie James has not let his disability get in the way of excelling at the sport he loves. James, 21, from Chatteris has gained six caps for England s deaf rugby team. He was born hard of hearing and wears hearing aids in both ears.

DEAF rugby player Charlie James has not let his disability get in the way of excelling at the sport he loves.

James, 21, from Chatteris has gained six caps for England's deaf rugby team.

He was born hard of hearing and wears hearing aids in both ears. He is also short sighted and wears contact lenses.

He played rugby as a child but gave up between the ages of 13 and 17.

His mother, Susan James, who is treasurer of England Deaf Rugby Union, said: "Charlie quit rugby because he could not see or hear properly. He also felt a bit isolated because he didn't understand what was going on in the post-match banter. This is a common problem with many deaf people who play team sports for hearing teams."

James rediscovered his passion for the sport while a student at the King's School, Ely.

Mrs James said: "The school had scrapped its rugby team but the new head, Susan Freestone, is a big rugby fan and brought it back."

James played for the school's second team and soon discovered England Deaf Rugby Union on the internet.

He earned his first cap at the age of 18 against Wales and scored a try in their last match, which was a 25-15 win over Scotland on March 9.

James will take a rugby coaching course in June and plans to help sports enthusiasts with hearing impairment and learning disabilities.

The course is being arranged by Fenland Disability Sport, which is run by Fenland District Council.

Mrs James said: "Playing deaf rugby has been an enormous help in Charlie's life. It has given him confidence and several other life skills and now he's really keen to help others who have been in the same boat as him."

* To find out more about England Deaf Rugby Union, contact Tony Stoyles on 07703 581731, or, via e mail, on dor@englanddeafrugby.com

Fact file:

* Deaf rugby is played in the same way as the traditional form of rugby but with players using hand signals.

* The referee raises both arms in the air of nobody hears the whistle.

* All the players have to have a minimum hearing loss in both ears or to be totally deaf in one ear.

* They range from moderate hearing loss to profoundly deaf and for some their first language is British Sign Language.

* Interpreters have to attend every match and the players all play for hearing clubs.

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