Sat 13 Jun 2020 10:02

Top level rugby might be making tentative plans to get back to action, but for Pocklington's most famous player, Rob Webber, his career is now moving in a different direction.

Webber (pictured taking a Pocklington pre-season training session at Kilnwick Park in 2013) went from mini rugby player at Pocklington to full England honours. Along the way he played at all levels with Pocklington rugby club from Under 7s to 1st XV, captained Pocklington School, then represented every England team, culminating in 16 international caps; and in a remarkable professional career with Leeds, Wasps, Bath and Sale he will end third in the Premiership's list of all time appearances after playing 208 Premiership games. While his Sales Sharks career has ended prematurely because of the lockdown, he certainly finished on a high note, being named in Premiership Rugby's team of the season in March.

Webber, 33, will now move to a new life as forwards' coach with Championship outfit, Jersey Reds, and relocate to the Channel Islands from his current home in Cheshire.

Speaking to The Rugby Paper last week he summed everything up: "From where I started at Pocklington Rugby Club, I've played for some fantastic clubs and represented England, so if you'd offered me that when I was 17, I'd have bitten your arm off."

Webber started out at Percy Road in a mini rugby team coached by his father, Mike, and including his older brother, Mat. He was tipped for future honours from the start and went on to play age grade rugby for England U16 and U18 while still at Pocklington, also making a handful of first team appearances, the last on tour in Barcelona in 2005, before he left his first professional club, Leeds, and moved to London to join Wasps. More representative honours followed, playing in the U21 world cup, representing England Saxons and England Sevens, then winning 16 full international caps, including tours to Australia, New Zealand and Argentina and playing for England in the 2015 world cup; he also captained his country in a non-cap game against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Announcing his retirement via his current club, Sale Sharks, he said: "The time has come for me to hang up my playing boots. It has been an incredible journey over the last 16 years. The memories I have made will stay with me always, I feel very lucky to have played with and against some of the world’s best players and to call many of them mates. The friendships I have made along the way I will take with me everywhere I go.

"The opportunity to play for my country, tour the world and to be involved in a World Cup are career highlights and achievements I will cherish forever. Thank you to the fans who have supported me throughout my career, the game wouldn’t exist without you. Most importantly, thank you to the unsung people who have made it happen; My family. My wife Lauren, daughter Ronnie, my parents and my brother – thank you for the sacrifices you made to give me the opportunity."

Coaching the forwards at Jersey might be a new full-time career, but Webber is no stranger to coaching part-time. Although living at the opposite ends of the country in recent years he has made regular trips back to Pocklington to take guest coaching sessions at his home club and old school, in addition to coming back to make presentations or just support Pocklington from the sidelines.

He also coached Bath University during his four years in the south-west, and for the past three seasons has been head coach at Sandbach RFC down the road from where he lives. He will also be taking a wealth of experience of playing under the direction of some of the games top and contrasting coaches including British Lions supremo, Ian McGeechan, Wales and France defence coach, Sean Edwards, and Stuart Lancaster with both Leeds and England.

Webber takes up his new role on 1 July but has already been invloved in planning and recruitment for Jersey's next Championship campaign from a distance, and said he was: "Excited for island life." Jersey’s Director of Rugby, Harvey.Biljon, felt he had pulled off a coup in signing Webber, saying: "We’ve spoken to some very high quality individuals about the role, but Rob stood out and I’ve had a lot of positive endorsements from people I respect. He knows the game and is very articulate and I believe his character will really transmit itself to the others he’ll be working with.

“There’s a lot of excitement about Rob’s arrival and it will be great to have him working in harness with Ed Robinson – two really promising young English coaches.”

news articles