SIS rugby player James Gostick fractured his eye socket ... and keeps playing

By YP cadet Andrea Zoen

After recovering from a serious injury, this rugby player is heading back to the pitch

By YP cadet Andrea Zoen |

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South Island School student James Gostick (right, in blue and white uniform) isn't letting injury slow him down.

What's your ultimate goal in life? To end world hunger? To sell out Madison Square Garden? For 15-year-old James Gostick from South Island School, it's to represent Hong Kong in Japan in 2019 at the next Rugby World Cup - and he is determined to train for it.

But James has been out of the game for several months, and has only just started playing again. During an interschool game against Harrow International School Hong Kong, James suffered a concussion and a fractured eye socket. He isn't too sure exactly what happened, as he has very few memories of the event, but he needed surgery for the fracture.

Sadly, he says, "there were some complications following the accident, which is why I wasn't able to play for such a long time." His eyes were permanently crossed as a result of the surgery, leaving him with slightly skewed vision.

"Overcoming my injury was definitely my biggest challenge," said James. Because of his blurred vision, it has taken took eight months for his eyesight to adjust, leaving him unable to play all that time. But his passion for the game burned stronger than ever. James was committed to his team, and showed up to nearly every match they played to support them.

"It hurt to watch others play, while knowing I wouldn't play for a while," he says. "Our team went on to finish top of the league and win the cup, but it was [bittersweet because] I wasn't able to play with them until the end."

His eventual return to the pitch was more difficult than James had imagined. "My first game back was for the school team in a friendly round of sevens. I have never felt more nervous in my life," he says. While James describes his return from injury as nerve-racking, he was happy to be back playing with his friends again.

Despite his lofty aspirations, James only actually started playing rugby when he started secondary school. "My dad was the main reason I gave it a go. He played a lot of rugby when he was younger and thought I should give it a try," he said.

James joined the school rugby team, then the following year joined Hong Kong Football Club.

James also plays for Hong Kong; being picked to play for the city's U14 team was an unexpected privilege which brought great experiences and opportunities, and made him fall even more deeply in love with the sport and the camaraderie that comes along with it.

James isn't giving up on rugby any time soon.

"Gaining a place in the national team has had a profound effect on me," James says.

Last week, James had yet another surgery on his eyes, and has had to stop playing again for a while. "I've undergone two operations so far, the last one just last week finally making my vision better," he says. And although there are more operations to come for the English-Japanese rugby player, he is glad he has recovered enough to be able to play the sport he loves.

While there are still some obstacles to overcome, James remains positive, and hopes to inspire other players.

"For everyone who's playing rugby, the main thing is to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy it, it will be incredibly hard to succeed," he says. "And if any of you are in my position where you're unable to play, it's important to stay positive and do whatever you're able to do."

It's this advice that got James through the past few months, as well as the support of family and friends. "They all gave me a tremendous amount of support, and I really appreciate all of it".