Oita, Japan, Sep 26 – Legend has it that when Kevin Barrett retired from rugby he said he was off “to make some All Blacks”, and now three of his sons are making the family dream come true at the Rugby World Cup.
Beauden, Scott and Jordie Barrett, the first sibling trio to play together for the All Blacks, have gone from playing rugby together on the family dairy farm to gracing the sport’s biggest stage.
“It’s a hugely proud moment for our family,” said Beauden, twice World Player of the Year, of having three brothers together in the All Blacks’ 31-man World Cup squad.
All three were picked on Monday for the clash against Canada, meaning they will be the first sibling trio to start a World Cup Test for the All Blacks.
The All Blacks’ packed schedule of training, matches and promotional work leaves rare moments for the brothers, who play in different positions, to relax together.
They have not even been given the opportunity to room together on tour, but they found time for a light-hearted reunion in the southern city of Beppu where the All Blacks are preparing for the Canada match.
“I never really thought we’d be here,” lock Scott Barrett, 25, said, recalling the childhood ‘Test’ matches the boys would play on the family farm in New Zealand’s North Island province of Taranaki.
“In the backyard it would be a joke and you’d say, ‘He’s got to kick to win it, the World Cup’.
“You would create scenarios like that and, you’d sort of joke and now you pinch yourself because we’re here right now.”
Captain Kieran Read said it would be “exciting” to have all three on the pitch.
“I’m sure it’ll be just like the backyard for them,” he said.
– ‘Big brother’ –
Beauden Barrett, 28, who gained fame as a fly-half but is primarily playing fullback in Japan, said that as the “big brother” he keeps an eye out for Scott and Jordie at team meetings.
“As siblings, as you grow older, I guess you go your own ways but its an awesome time for us to connect on tour all together and all be living the dream we once had to play for the All Blacks. There’s no place better than a World Cup.”
Jordie, 22 and the youngest of the trio, is a utility back and unless the All Blacks suffer a string of injuries he is likely to get limited time on the field.
But he thinks it’s “pretty cool” having Beauden as the star of the team.
“Yesterday, we turned up at the airport and they were all screaming Beauden’s name and Scott and I were looking at each other thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ but I think it’s pretty cool.
“Everyone in the team knows he’s got a bit of expectation around him and the hype’s good.”
The lanky Jordie has reason to feel at home in Japan as he has the family nickname of “Udon” for resembling a long, skinny noodle, while Scott among a multitude of nicknames is generally called “Scooter”.
Jordie admits to being too scared to call the oldest brother anything other than “Beaudy” because “there would be repercussions if I called him something else.”
– Sporting genes –
Whether the breeding All Blacks line is fact or fiction, the reality is that when dad Kevin retired from the Hurricanes Super Rugby club in 1999 his three sons were already born.
With Kevin an uncompromising lock forward, and mother Robyn a talented netball and basketball player it was not surprising the Barrett boys had sporting talent in their genes.
In 2000, when Beauden was nine, Kevin Barrett moved the family to Ireland where he worked as a farm manager in Meath and his talented sons learned a lot of their ball handling skills by playing Gaelic football.
On their return to New Zealand it was back to rugby and from their robust backyard matches they rose to make history when the they became the first set of three brothers to take the field together for the All Blacks when they thrashed France 52-11 in Auckland last year.
Four years ago, Beauden Barrett scored the try that clinched New Zealand’s 34-17 win over Australia in the World Cup final and father Kevin played a role in the celebrations by filling the trophy with milk from cows on their dairy farm.
“Creamy white milk looks so good in the gold cup,” Beauden once told CNN.
This time there are three brothers looking for a taste.