This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 18 °C Friday 10 April, 2020
Advertisement

Sam Weber: How the brother of an All Black ended up playing rugby in Dundalk

Sam Weber talks about playing Leinster League rugby, cutting grass and this year’s World Cup

Dundalk RFC’s Sam Webber // Image credit: Ciarán Culligan.
Dundalk RFC’s Sam Webber // Image credit: Ciarán Culligan.

HOW MUST LIFE be as the brother of an All Black?

“Awesome”, as it happens. Or, at least that’s how Dundalk RFC’s Sam Weber views it.

The 25-year-old’s elder sibling, Brad, is a one-time New Zealand international, having faced Samoa in 2015, and remains on Steve Hansen’s radar following a strong Super Rugby campaign with the Chiefs.

“Every kid’s dream growing up in New Zealand is to play for the All Blacks,” Weber tells The42.

“I was just immensely proud of him, the whole family were. He’s always been a very good player, who just came into his stride.”

From “a family of half-backs”, Sam’s career hasn’t been mundane either, from playing sevens at a representative level with Otago to heading north for a season at Dundalk in the provincial divisions.

Brad Weber Brad Weber in action for the Chiefs. Source: Photosport/Jeremy Ward/INPHO

A utility back, Weber has been a mainstay of a side who have struggled in Division 1A of the Leinster League this season. Indeed, they face north-east – and, as it happens, relegation – rivals Boyne today needing a win to boost their survival prospects.

It’s not uncommon for Kiwis to arrive on these shores for a year playing rugby. Indeed, many of Dundalk’s opponents are packed with visitors seeking to experience the European game.

Weber was no different, and while victories have been exclusive, defeats haven’t dampened the experience altogether.

“It’s been a lot of fun, but frustrating that we couldn’t win more games,” he says.

“I’ve always wanted to go overseas to either Europe or the UK. But I’d heard mixed reviews about playing rugby in the UK so I was told that if I could get to Ireland it would be a great place to travel and move over to.”

He ranks himself and his partner as the only two New Zealanders living in Blackrock, Co. Louth, which isn’t too hard to qualify on the basis of local knowledge.

A primary school teacher, his days are spent either “subbing” in the classroom or working with clubman Adam Doyle’s landscaping firm, a role which has given him grass-cutting duties all the way from Dundalk to Galway, with visits to Dublin and the Midlands in between.

His voyage to Dundalk was sparked by a compatriot, Hamish Walker, who was a key member of the Black and Whites’ title challenge last season. A couple of emails back and forth ended with Weber taking a step into the unknown.

Steve Hansen New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

“I just did a Google of Dundalk and it doesn’t actually come up with much apart from that it was ‘a soccer-football town’,” he quips.

“I knew nothing about the rugby side of things, so I just had to go on the word of Hamish.

He gets a bit of friendly “slagging” now and then over his All Blacks connection, but nothing too serious. Although, there was one night that he feared the trek to Mill Road for training — the session following Ireland’s memorable defeat of New Zealand in the autumn.

“I didn’t want to show my face at training the Tuesday night!

“I definitely wasn’t expecting an Irish win, but by being there live, they literally outplayed us, it was a humbling experience, but an awesome one. There was a great atmosphere, nothing like in New Zealand.”

Weber rates Ireland’s World Cup chances highly, that’s if they can rediscover their November form, while England’s solid tournament pedigree has them in focus, too.

“The northern hemisphere teams are all pushing. I would say if Ireland can re-find their form and the way that they were playing, they’re unbeatable. You can see what they did to the All Blacks, beating them, I would say, quite comfortably.

New Zealand's Ofa Tuungafasi is tackled by Ireland’s Garry Ringrose Action from the November international between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“England look very good and the way they’re playing right now, we haven’t seen that for a long time. They go well in World Cups traditionally so I wouldn’t be surprised if they go all the way to the final.”

Then, there is the question of Joe Schmidt and his reputation on native soil. Surprisingly, Weber reckons Warren Gatland’s profile is a lot higher despite Schmidt having twice beaten the All Blacks during his Irish reign.

“I’d say he’s gone a little under the radar. We hear a lot about Warren Gatland back home, just for his time with the Lions and the Welsh’s success.

“I hadn’t heard Joe’s name too much before I came over here, but now that I’m over here, he’s everywhere; he’s great at what he does and very professional.”

Brad Weber celebrates his try with James Lowe Brad Weber celebrates scoring a try for New Zealand Maori with James Lowe, now of Leinster. Source: Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

The utility back’s term in Dundalk is to come to a close at the end of April, when he and his girlfriend will travel Ireland before embarking on a world tour, where he hopes to find work and rugby, armed with playing expertise in the styles of both hemispheres, which, he concedes, are palpably different.

His brother, Weber feels, could have been a part of the All Blacks’ travelling posse last November, but he reckons Brad has a major chance of making the plane to Japan.

If that’s the case, Sam will be there to support.

Some year that would be, from Napier to Japan, via Dundalk….

Andy Dunne joins Murray Kinsella and Ryan Bailey to discuss Joe Schmidt’s undroppables and how France might attack Ireland’s predictability in The42 Rugby Weekly.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

Subscribe to our new podcast, The42 Rugby Weekly, here:

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (4)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel