April 3, 2023 8.00 am This story is over 14 months old

Parents’ pride as Lincolnshire rugby brothers shine for England

Their former Lincolnshire clubs heaped praise on the duo

Brothers Ollie and Lewis Chessum’s journey from Lincolnshire to the England team continues to make their parents and former clubs proud.

The brothers were born in the village of Aunsby, between Sleaford and Grantham, and began playing rugby at Carre’s Grammar School.

Ollie, 22, went on to play for both Sleaford and Newark Rugby Clubs before giving it up for a year. However he soon returned to the sport after being persuaded by his cousin Ben Bailey, who plays for Kesteven RFC.

He played for Kesteven’s Under-16s and Colts before being selected for England Counties Under-18s.

Ollie Chessum scored his first England try in the Six Nations match against Italy on February 12, 2023. | Photo: Parkes Fine Art Photography

Ollie enjoyed a spell at Championship club Nottingham before securing a dream move in 2020 to the team he supported growing up – Leicester Tigers.

He made his senior debut for Tigers in the Premiership fixture at Gloucester in August of that year and has never looked back, making over 40 appearances.

His brother Lewis, 20, started playing at Sleaford Rugby Club at the age of 10, as well as playing for his school.

He stayed at Sleaford until he was selected for the Tigers Academy at the end of Under-16s and he has since progressed through the ranks, and is hoping to push for the first team.

England Under-20’s captain Lewis Chessum running out onto the pitch. | Photo: Lewis Chessum

On the international stage, Ollie now has nine caps for England and scored his first try against Italy in this year’s Six Nations.

Lewis captained England’s Under-20s in their Six Nations campaign, and the brothers continue to be talked about more and more, both locally and nationally.

Their younger brother Dylan, 15, also loves rugby and plays for local club Kesteven.

Proud mum Michelle Chessum with her sons Dylan, Ollie, and Lewis. | Photo: Michelle Chessum

Parents’ pride

Mum Michelle Chessum told The Lincolnite that she didn’t used to massively follow rugby, but bought a season ticket at Leicester Tigers around eight years ago and took her sons to watch games.

She still finds watching her sons playing a nerve-wracking experience however.

“When I see them run out on the pitch, I still sit in the very same seat, and it is quite surreal,” she said.

“I am always very proud, but I am a very nervous spectator and don’t enjoy the suspense of the game and the anticipation of the result, and have all sorts of emotions as a rugby mum.

“It’s not always an enjoyable 80 minutes, but I absolutely love it when I see them come out, and sing the anthem. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Chessum brothers at one of their first ever Leicester Tigers matches. | Photo: Michelle Chessum

She added: “I’m not a very good judge of their playing ability so it is nice sometimes to read people’s reviews on them.

“I’ve always been excited if they made the back page of the Grantham Journal, and now they are in the Daily Mail or Telegraph, it’s pretty unbelievable, and I have a box of cuttings.

“It wasn’t what we thought the boys would end up doing, but they have worked incredibly hard and are good at what they do.

“Lots of people know about them in Sleaford and people say they’ve been following the boys. We go to Kesteven Rugby Club regularly and there is stuff on the club wall of Ollie.”

Proud dad Paddy with his son Ollie after a recent England Six Nations game. | Photo: Paddy Chessum

Their father Paddy Chessum, who is a big Leicester Tigers fan, said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. Credit to the lads, they’ve done it all themselves.

“The’ve put all the hard work in and every time I see them come out on the pitch you have to pinch yourself.”

He added that Ben Pickard from Carre’s Grammar School and Colin Owen from Sleaford Rugby Club were big influences on his sons’ careers.

Ollie with his half-sister Zoe after a recent England game. | Photo: Paddy Chessum

Paddy said watching his sons during the Six Nations was “a dream come true”.

He said: “You can’t ever imagine having one of your own running out at Twickenham, so to see it happen is totally surreal and unbelievable.

“It is also brilliant for Lewis. Out of the two, Ollie has always been the natural athlete. With Lewis being so tall, and a bit clunky and clumsy, he has worked so hard to develop into the player he is and all his hard work has paid dividends.”

Paddy with two of his sons – Dylan and Lewis – after a recent England Under-20’s Six Nations match. | Photo: Paddy Chessum

With Ollie and Lewis at the same club, their parents look forward to the prospect of them both being in the starting XV on the pitch at the same time in the future.

Michelle said: “I cannot wait for the day when they get to play together, and they can’t. I don’t know how close Lewis is to making a first team appearance, and that will be a huge day out for the family and for them.

“When Lewis has had a game he’s always interested in Oliver’s input into what he’s doing. Lewis looks up to Oliver a lot and they are close, and for me as a parent it is nice they’ve got one another.

“Last year they both made their debuts for England and I thought it couldn’t get any better. This year Oliver played his first game at Twickenham and Lewis was captain (of the Under-20s). It was all a bit overwhelming, it is unbelievable for me as a parent.

“The game against Scotland is a game I’ll never forget. It was Oliver’s first home game playing at the iconic Twickenham, it was phenomenal.”

Paddy Chessum with his three sons Ollie, Dylan, and Lewis. | Photo: Paddy Chessum

Paddy added: “That would be a dream come true and a day we looking forward to seeing. Not just us, but the people in the stands at Tigers, and people locally.

“There is a lot of pride in the local area and they are still grounded and go back to their local clubs.”

Lewis is continuing his development at Tigers, while Ollie is returning to the club on Monday, April 3 to start his rehabilitation programme and recovery from a broken fibula and ankle, and the brothers will keep supporting one another during their careers.

Michelle with Dylan and Lewis after her middle son captained a recent England Under-20’s Six Nations match. | Photo: Michelle Chessum

Lincolnshire pride

Both Ollie and Lewis have never forgotten their local roots and return to support their Lincolnshire clubs whenever they can. Both Kesteven and Sleaford Rugby Club were full of praise for the brothers.

Dimitri Arlando, Chair at Kesteven RFC, said: “Everyone at Kesteven Rugby Club is very proud of both Ollie and Lewis and what they have achieved to date. Although Lewis played age grade rugby at our local rivals, Sleaford, both he and Ollie are frequently at the club watching younger brother Dylan play for our Under-15s.

“They are also both regulars at senior games (when training schedules permit) watching their cousin Ben Bailey play for our 1st XV.

“They aren’t just good rugby players, they are also decent young men and Ollie is always happy to come to club events. He was at our President’s Day last year handing out medals and awards to the 300+ kids we have at the club in our junior and minis section.

“The buzz amongst our kids when he’s around is incredible to witness. He is an inspiration to the next generation not just from a playing perspective but Ollie is also a role model for the great values of our game.

“Ollie is also an example to all because he was a late from a rugby perspective and has worked hard to get to where he is. We all hope that he recovers quickly from his current injury and makes the World Cup squad and if not, he’s always welcome to come and watch the games at the club!”

Ollie Chessum (right) during his time playing at Kesteven, with his cousin Ben Bailey (left) who still plays for the Lincolnshire club. | Photo: Michelle Chessum

Angus Shaw, Kesteven RFC President, added: “I first saw Ollie play in an Under-16 County Cup final and thought ‘he’s making the team click’ and had no idea why.

“He just got on with his job and did everything to an outstanding level. Watching him for Tigers was the same, watching him for England is the same – he somehow makes excellence look routine!”

Brothers Ollie and Lewis Chessum getting ready for a rugby tour with Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford in 2015. | Photo: Michelle Chessum

Sleaford Rugby Club President Andrew Crawford said the club has been a “bastion of youth development almost from its inception in 1978”.

He said: “The focus of Sleaford Rugby Club has always centred on developing tomorrow’s players regardless of the level they end up playing. We, as a club, are immensely proud of the Chessum brothers but equally proud of all those that play and have played at mini and junior level.

“As President of the club I too am a product of the mini and junior section having first pulled on the red and black shirt at four years of age. Nothing fills my heart with more joy than seeing the young boys and girls every Sunday running out and giving their all.

“Who knows who from the sea of smiling faces will be the next to emulate their heroes Ollie and Lewis and represent their country? But I’m pretty sure given the dedication of players, parents and coaches it won’t take another 40 years.”

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