Despite spending the last ten years playing in the Premiership for London Wasps and now Bath, Rob Webber (94-04) gets home as often as possible to support his old club. However, that has become increasingly difficult in the past couple of years due to club and country demands. However, after playing his full part in a Friday night fixture for Bath in their Premiership victory over Saracens he was able to get a 7am train on Saturday 4 October for a weekend back in Yorkshire.
It became something of a Webber family reunion as other family members descended on Percy Road in the afternoon to catch up with Rob, who was also accompanied by his new fiancée, Lauren, and members of her family. The Webber day was complete when elder brother, Mat (94-02), scored Pocklington’s second try in the 20-8 win over Bradford & Bingley.
After telling everyone in a packed Pocklington clubhouse that it was “Great be home to watch the mighty Pocklington RUFC”, Rob also had some official duties to perform. One of his England shirts has pride of place in the club’s recently refurbished clubhouse, and he was photographed in front of it making a special presentation to three of the club’s up and coming youngsters. Rob had hoped to take part in Pocklington’s annual summer school back in August, but extra England training put paid to his original plans. Instead he donated some of his England training gear as prizes for the most promising participants, which he duly presented at half-time to the beaming winners – Under 15, Jake McClure, Under 13, Harry Cartwright and Under 8, Charlie Turner.
He also took time out to talk about his hopes for adding to his tally of international appearances following his stellar performances for England against the All Blacks in the summer.
“I enjoyed the New Zealand tour immensely and hope I gave a good account of myself and showed the England coaches a bit more evidence of what I can bring to the team.
“I certainly want to keep the shirt and will work hard to put myself in the best position with Stuart [Lancaster] and the coaches for England selection.
“If I’m playing well for Bath and the team is doing well, hopefully they will look at me, think I can do a good job and give me another opportunity.”
If he can maintain his current form and fitness for high flying Bath he certainly looks in line to add to his current tally of eight caps. The England squad for the autumn internationals will be announced in a week – with England having a demanding schedule next month of playing New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia on successive weekends.
But first there is a Premiership game for Bath against his old club, London Wasps, this Saturday followed by big European Cup club games against Glasgow and Toulouse. And Rob has also recently been busy off the field with charity work back in Bath, becoming an ambassador for the British Heart Foundation – remarkably his career as a top sportsman followed two heart operations in Leeds as a young boy and has prompted a role in helping raise funds for the foundation.
Pocklington’s special day also saw a visit from the new Yorkshire RFU President, Ted Atkinson, from Sledmere, and the club’s additional facilities were put to full use in accommodating a pre-match lunch for some 60 Vice-Presidents. Atkinson knows Webber well from his time as a Yorkshire selector and England age group manager, and he was also able to catch up in the clubhouse afterwards with some old friends from his playing days in the 1970s and 80s.
The clubhouse refurbishment has been supported by a grant from Sports England’s ‘Inspired Facilities’ fund supplemented by an England Rugby ‘Social Spaces’ award, with an aim to provide a better match day environment and also attract more private parties, functions and business meetings. The clubhouse now has Wi-Fi, sound and big screen facilities, disabled access and can accommodate sit down functions of up to 120.