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Alumni Stories > Alumni Stories > Callum's Lucky Call

Callum's Lucky Call

Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck to land your dream career, despite the overwhelming odds. Callum (2012 Cohort) shares how an unexpected call put him back on the path to professional rugby.

What’s your Tanglin story? 

My Tanglin story started in 1997 when my family moved from Hong Kong to Singapore. I was just three years old and went straight into Nursery school when there were only two buildings on campus at the time (Infant and Junior school). Little did I know Tanglin would be where I would spend the next 15 years of my school life before graduating Sixth Form in 2012. I have a younger brother, Andrew, and twin sisters Annie and Caitlin, who all started Nursery at Tanglin and stayed there for at least the next 10 years before we all moved back to Northern Ireland where they finished their schooling, and I went on to university. 

How did your passion for rugby first begin? 

I guess my inspiration growing up came from both my dad and cousin, Matt McCullough. Matt was a member of the Ulster rugby squad as well as an Ireland international player and someone I looked up to when I was younger. My Dad had always played rugby and was the one who took me to the Tanglin Rugby Club Minis on the current site of the Sixth Form Centre and Turf City. I also have vivid memories of going to watch him play for SCC at the Padang.


Why did you decide to become a professional rugby player?

I was quite fortunate to find rugby as a career. I’d spent a bit of time with the Ulster U18/20s set up but whilst I was in university back in the UK, I had two pretty serious knee injuries and missed almost every match in my last two years. After finishing university in 2016, I moved to New Zealand with the intention to spend a couple years working and travelling but thankfully I also started to do rugby again. Whilst in New Zealand, I got a phone call from the coaching staff at the Hong Kong Rugby Union. They knew I was qualified through birth rights and invited me over for a trial in 2018. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to represent Hong Kong in both the 15s and 7s version of the games with some notable occasions including the Asia Rugby 15s champions, 7s World Cup and a handful of HSBC 7s World Series events including the most recent Singapore leg of the series. 


What/who was most memorable during your time at Tanglin?

There are so many spanning the 15 years I spent at the school! There were many opportunities to pursue your interests, whether it was academic, sports, arts etc. The school trips were always a highlight regardless of the destination, like Cambodia and India with my year group or SEASAC/FOBISEA sports trips to places like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, or Brunei. And obviously playing in the finals of the Schools 7s Competition at the Padang was a huge highlight!

In terms of memorable people, there were so many along the way. It’s great to see so many of my same teachers still teaching at Tanglin over 10 years later, which is such a great testament to the school and community itself. I (regrettably) still haven’t been back to visit the school but was fortunate enough to catch up with Mr Farr and Mrs Paterson at the Singapore 7s to hear about how much has changed!

What would be your advice for an aspiring student athlete?

I guess the way I looked at it and still look at it is that professional sports aren’t guaranteed. It’s the kind of career that isn’t going to last forever and can also be taken away at any point so always plan for the future or have some sort of backup plan. Obviously finding a university that allows you to pursue your chosen sport and get a degree at the same time is massive. The biggest bit of advice I would give to aspiring student athletes is consistency in whatever you do, whether it’s your training or studies. It’s a real cliché but do the work when no one is watching, and you’ll get your opportunities down the line. 



Tanglin Trust School Singapore has a long tradition of providing British-based learning with an international perspective. At Tanglin we strive to make every individual feel valued, happy and successful.

Find us at 95 Portsdown Road, Singapore 139299

Tanglin Trust School Ltd
Registration number : 196100114C
Registration period : 7 June 2023 to 6 June 2029

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