Having been announced by the Reds as the club’s new Forwards Coach in March, former England hooker Rob Webber is hoping to soon be able to travel to the Island and take up the role. He was recently interviewed in The Rugby Paper – reproduced here by kind permission of the writer, Neale Harvey.
Rob Webber aims to assimilate the best of Shaun Edwards and Neal Hatley into his coaching repertoire as he prepares to begin his first full-time role at Jersey.
Sale hooker Webber, 33, eschewed another year playing in the Premiership and will join the Channel Islanders on July 1, knowing his top-flight throwing days are over.
However, the Yorkshireman has no regrets, telling The Rugby Paper: “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.
“I’m content and while I had another year on my contract at Sale, it was my decision to go into coaching now and it’s time to dip my toe into the next stage.
“Alongside playing, I’ve been head coach at Sandbach RFC for the last three years, which was a decent level, and before that when I was at Bath, I was assistant coach at the University there. I’ve been doing my Level 3 coaching course so I’m ready for that next step.”
Webber added: “I spoke to a number of people I respect who coached me, and others who hadn’t, and thought they’d point me to academy coaching, but most reckoned the Championship was where I could really cut my teeth and have genuine responsibility.
“Harvey Biljon, Jersey’s DoR, had left Wasps when I arrived there from Leeds in 2005, but when I was 18 I went on loan to Blackheath where he was player-coach and we kept in touch, so there’s a lot of symmetry to where I’m starting in full-time coaching now.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Harvey and Ed Robinson, who seems a very knowledgeable coach as well, and although that extra responsibility comes with pressure, it will allow me to put my stamp on things and Jersey is a very good place to learn.”
With money at Championship clubs tight, Webber will have a wide-ranging remit around coaching the forwards, including set-piece, breakdown and defence.
Having worked under renowned coaches Edwards, Hatley, Graham Rowntree and latterly Steve Diamond, there is no shortage of inspiration to draw upon.
Webber explained: “Harvey doesn’t tend to label coaches as attack or defence, he likes to involve you in different things and I’m really looking forward to that.
“All the coaches I worked under had different outlooks and it’s about picking the bits from them that worked and identifying what I might do a bit differently.
“Shaun Edwards was a stand-out coach for me in my formative years at Wasps and his credibility speaks for itself, while I worked well with Neal Hatley too.
“We were fortunate at Bath that we had a pretty monster pack at the time but I tended to agree with how Neal saw the game and I’ve been fortunate there.”
Webber leaves Sale in second place in the Premiership, poised for a title charge.
He admits: “It’s a massive shame I can’t say goodbye as I’d have liked but the club’s probably in the best place it’s been for about ten years. It’s a bit of a minefield with players coming and going, but if they can regain momentum quickly, they have a chance.”
Meanwhile, Webber believes England’s depth at hooker is equally outstanding. He added: “Jamie George is a proven British Lion and Luke Cowan-Dickie has really come of age as a Test player, but I knew Tom Dunn at Bath and he’s coming through now.
“It’s good to see him pushing his nose in there and hopefully he can soon get a couple of games under his belt. Once you’re in that environment regularly you can really kick-on and, having seen Tom progress as a young player, he’s definitely got talent.”