James Chisholm admits it is do or die for Harlequins this evening if they are to turn a season of disappointment into one to remember.
The south-west London outfit lock horns with Grenoble at Twickenham Stoop with a place in the European Challenge Cup final on the line, and the clash in all likelihood represents Quins’ last chance for silverware this season.
Last weekend’s defeat to Saracens at Wembley saw their hopes of an Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final go up in smoke, and with a top-six finish also not certain, success in the Challenge Cup could be Quins’ only route to Champions Cup rugby next term.
And with head coach Conor O’Shea leaving the club in the summer to take the reins of the Italian national team, Chisholm is desperate to send the Limerick-born coach off on a high note.
“Everyone’s buzzing for this game to be honest,” said Chisholm, who was at St Michael & St Martin Catholic Primary School in Hounslow on Wednesday to take part in an Aviva Tackling Numbers session.
“It’s not every day you get to play in a semi-final, and knockout rugby is always a huge event. We’re not going to make the top-four in the Aviva Premiership now either so this is it for us to win something this year.
“The entire squad is out there to win it regardless, but sending Conor off in style is certainly the cherry on top for us.
“Looking back, he’s won three major titles at the Stoop and to add another to that would be a fantastic way to finish. We’ll remember him fondly.
“Everyone knows what is up for grabs also in terms of qualifying for the Champions Cup too. We want to be playing the best teams in Europe and we have to get into that competition.
“We’ll have half an eye on that as we still haven’t guaranteed a top-six finish in the Aviva Premiership, but we want to win the trophy first and foremost, rather than doing it for the reward that follows.”
Aviva Tackling Numbers, in partnership with Premiership Rugby, is an innovative programme for 7-9 year olds which makes learning about numbers and financial education fun and engaging.
Through the programme, which is delivered by the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, 64,000 children have been introduced to maths and numbers outside of the regular classroom environment.
Chisholm joined Harlequins teammate Ben Botica and England World Cup winner Will Greenwood at the Hounslow school to take part in a maths session and play in a game of tag rugby, and he is confident the scheme is making the subject more accessible than ever before.
“We’ve been doing a lot of maths with the kids here this morning, and Ben Botica and I even had a bit of a maths challenge, which I’m ashamed and gutted to say I lost on a tiebreaker,” he said.
“But regardless, Aviva Tackling Numbers is an awesome programme, and it’s been good fun getting outside on a sunny day to play some tag rugby with the kids too.
“They have all reacted brilliantly to the way they are being taught these skills with numbers, and Will Greenwood has been down here too and the kids loved seeing him.
“Tackling Numbers clearly frames the numeracy skills in a really accessible way, makes it exciting, and if you do love sport, as these kids do, it’s a great way to learn.
“It works both ways; kids who are great at maths get the chance to get healthier with the tag rugby, and the kids that love sport get the opportunity to develop in the classroom. It’s a scheme for everyone.”
James Chisholm was speaking at an Aviva Tackling Numbers session. In partnership with Premiership Rugby, #AvivaTacklingNumbers helps 7-9 year olds put foundations in place for better financial skills later in life through the power of rugby. To find out more and try a maths test, visit aviva.co.uk/tacklingnumbers.