Joe Webber celebrates special milestones for the All Blacks Sevens

Joe Webber v2

He scored his 100th try as New Zealand made their first final of the 2023-24 season losing to Argentina.

“I wasn't blimmin' aware of that until the jersey presentation,” Webber laughed.

“I played my 50th tournament for New Zealand in Hamilton last year but to do 50 on the World Series is a cool milestone.

“Scoring my 100th try in the same tournament as Sam Dickson was awesome. We’ve played a lot together.”

Making the final in Vancouver was respectable after suffering a heavy defeat to South Africa in the first pool match. New Zealand improved from sixth to fourth in the overall standings. 

“It’s the third tournament in a row we’ve lost our first game. It’s coming a thing and we're working hard to fix it,” Webber said.

“It was a shock looking back at the South African game. Everything we planned to do; we didn’t do.

“We're starting to build stronger combinations and win crucial moments. Our results are on us and how we execute. 

“It is hard to beat a team when they get a buzz on. Argentina has had a consistent squad, plays to its strengths, and has confidence and belief.”

Webber started with the All Black Sevens in 2011 and earned a silver medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. He was injured the day before the 2018 Commonwealth Games final won by the All Blacks Sevens 14-0 against Fiji on the Gold Coast. 

He rates the Commonwealth Games success as well as three New Zealand tournament victories as the highlights of his career. 

In the 2016 Wellington Sevens, Webber scored the winning try in a 24-21 triumph over South Africa in the final. Reiko Ioane dotted down twice that day too and the All Blacks won the Sydney Sevens the following week.

The Hamilton Sevens final in 2020 was won 27-5 against France with Scott Curry (3) and Regan Ware (2) scoring tries. Webber thrived in familiar terrain. He played 24 games and scored 14 tries for Waikato between 2012 and 2014. Webber attended Hamilton Boys’ High School. In 2009 he played in their First XV that won the National Top Four title.

Webber has just returned to the All Blacks Sevens after taking a year off to complete his Te Tohu Paetahi (Māori immersion course) at the University of Waikato. It was a dream his koroua (grandfather) had for him.

“My koroua was part of the generation who were beaten at school for speaking Māori. The language was lost in our family so it was important with the revitalisation to pass it down to my kids before it’s too late. 

“My kids are 5, 7 and 10. They’ve been speaking te reo (Māori language) for three years.  I don’t want them to go through the same uncertainty with their identity as I did.

“It was hard work, like being an athlete I had to put the mahi (work) in. Learning what really matters has been huge.

When Webber’s grand mother passed three years ago, he inherited the homestead of his koroua in Bethlehem, Tauranga

“It’s just outside the city but away from the bustle. My kids go to the school nearby and a lot of my cousins are around. It’s a special place, our little oasis."

“There were three things my koroua always wanted me to do. One was to make the All Blacks, the second was to move back to our papakāinga and the third was to learn te reo."

*This weekend the fifth leg of SVNS is held in Los Angeles. The All Blacks Sevens are the defending champions and are grouped with Australia, Samoa, and the hosts USA. Unfortunately, Tim Mikkelson (hamstring), Leroy Carter (hamstring), and Akuila Rokolisoa (hip) are out injured for New Zealand. Jayden Keelan is likely to debut and Andrew Knewstubb will play his first tournament in two years.


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