Emotional day as brothers band together on rugby field

Date: Friday 16th February 2018
Left to right are James, Will and John Addyman.
Left to right are James, Will and John Addyman.

WHEN brothers Will, James and John Addyman took the field together for Keswick Rugby Club second team on Saturday, it was a memorable and emotional day for the family.

Not only was 17-year-old Will making his senior rugby debut and Jon playing while on leave from the Army, but James was returning to the game after surgery for an aggressive form of cancer left him without his right arm and shoulder joint.

The 22 year-old former Keswick first team and Cumbria player, whose favoured position is No. 8, came on for half an hour of the Cumbria Shield League game against Workington Steelers, which Keswick won 29-14, and said he was “happy with how it went”.

“Catching the ball was a bit hard, but my tackling was OK,” said James, who lives at the family farm at Asby, near Rowrah, West Cumbria.

“I played on Saturday because it was Will’s first senior game and John had come home from Belfast for the weekend to play, but I won’t be playing regularly yet.”

James was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive type of bone cancer, in June last year, and it quickly became clear that he would have to lose an arm and shoulder joint.

“I took it pretty well, really,” he said. “You’ve just got to get on with it. I still need some surgery but the chemotherapy finished in January and I’ve been training quite a lot since Christmas. I’ve been rugby training at Keswick and going to the gym locally.”

Will, who plays for Keswick juniors, was making his senior rugby debut, while John, aged 25, returned from the Army in Belfast, where he plays rugby, to take part. All were watched by mother Sue.

“It was good to play with my brothers,” said James. “I wasn’t sure it would happen.”

Keswick Rugby Club chairman Trevor Keough said: “It was impressive to watch all three brothers playing together, but more so to see James tackling, rucking and scrummaging and Will putting in a near man of the match performance in the back row of the Keswick scrum.”

Keswick School and former Keswick RFC coach Alan Gray began working with James when he was in Year 7. The school team then also included Catherine O’Donnell, who has gone on to play for England women.

“Right from the start James was an X-factor player,” said Alan. “When they were under-17s we had a really good run in the national RFU knockout plate competition, and drew at West Park Leeds to go through to the semi-finals. James was regularly man of the match.”

James left Keswick to play at Carlisle for two seasons and then went to Australia. He was also a Cumbria player and had North under-18 trials.

“James is probably one of the best innovators I ever coached,” said Alan. “Playing with one arm will not represent the handicap for him that it would for some people. All he will be bothered about is doing the best job he can — he is an awesome player.”