This last October at the Central Coast West Coast Collegiate 7s, Elliot Webb was in a state of euphoria on the sidelines as he watched his older brother Russell and other teammates begin their game versus Arizona State. For Elliot, it was a surreal experience to be part of the Cal rugby team’s travel squad and to share this time with Russell. Waiting in the wings on the sidelines with the match’s fellow reserves, Elliot witnessed the starters jump out to a commanding lead against the Sun Devils. He was taking it all in and embracing being in uniform along with his brother, then something special happened.
Russell exited the field and Elliot was called upon to enter the game. At long last, Elliot ultimately got the 7s play experience he had dreamt of in matches against Santa Clara and Arizona State, and Russell finally got to see his brother compete in rugby 7s play on the same collegiate team.
The Bears went on to beat the Sun Devils 33-5 and after this decisive win, the brothers got their chance to be together on the field, hugging and embracing one another to celebrate all they had been through together. The inseparable pair was together again, and on their biggest stage yet. For them, it was a moment that had been years in the making.
Elliot’s parents’ upbringings pretty much ensured that he would be exposed to various social and cultural backgrounds. His mother, Vivien, originally from Hong Kong, met his father, Lawrence, when the two attended university in his native England. His parents moved to Hong Kong, where they settled down and raised three boys: Adam, Elliot and Russell.
Of the three brothers, Elliot is the youngest, at 20 years of age, while Russell is 23 and Adam is 26. The brothers grew up like typical siblings, partaking in sports, games and other activities.
In Hong Kong, Elliot grew up in a household where his fervor for sports was able to blossom at a young age. His father played rugby and his two older brothers followed suit, so getting involved in the sport was inevitable. During his childhood, rugby balls were scattered all around the Webb household, and this led to the brothers enjoying recreational play with one another.
At times, the two of them got along seamlessly, while on other occasions they had their skirmishes. In Hong Kong, Elliot and Russell lived on the middle floor of a three-story apartment complex. As kids, they used to go up to the top level of the building and throw balls down to the ground level, but there was one occasion in particular, where tempers flared between the brothers.
On this day, the two of them were playing with toy cars on the bottom level of the apartment and they got into a bit of an argument. In response, Elliot grabbed one of the Hot Wheels and stormed up to the top level of the apartment. Once on the top level, Elliot chucked down the hot wheel right at Russell’s head and as a result, Russell ended up getting about twelve stitches.
“This (story) makes him sound like a bit of a rascal,” said Russell. “But apart from that, that is probably my fondest memory of Elliot.”
The hours, days, months and years that Russell and Elliot spent together growing up were bound to include instances of difference.
“We’ve always been close, but you know, brothers are brothers, and they get into scruffs,” said Russell. “I wouldn’t say we were that close at a very young age.”
Prior to Elliot’s arrival at Cal, the brothers’ bond grew tremendously during their time together at Tonbridge School, an all-boys boarding school in England. After year eight of school in Hong Kong, Elliot reunited with Russell, who had spent the previous few years at Tonbridge. Here, Russell helped ease Elliot with his transition to an unfamiliar space. The two of them, once again, were able to be around each other extensively, like their time in Hong Kong.
Although the brothers were in different grades, they were still able to interact. For instance, the brothers were able to recreationally play fives together, a traditional English game played at many of the country’s boarding schools. Times such as these allowed them to enjoy each other’s company and support one another while they were away from home. It was a period in which their relationship as brothers and friends became even stronger.
“It wasn’t until after I moved to boarding school and then he joined me at boarding school that we started to become very very close,” said Russell. “Since then we’ve been close to inseparable.”
Time has swiftly passed by but Elliot’s many fond memories and experiences with Russell in Hong Kong and Tonbridge School will forever be engrained in his mind. Russell’s time at Tonbridge eventually came to an end and he moved west for the next chapter in his life, but not before helping Elliot adjust to life on a new continent.
A few years later, Elliot committed to Cal and packed his bags for the Bay Area with a familiar face awaiting his arrival.
Elliot is a great distance from home at Cal, but his brother Russell is right by his side once again, this time as his teammate on the Cal rugby team. Russell entered Cal in the fall of 2012 and is now in his final semester at UC Berkeley. Elliot, who is only a sophomore has been able to go through his early years at UC Berkeley with a figure who has been so important in his life. Though brothers will be brothers and at times don’t see eye-to-eye, they have remained close through it all.
“(Russell and I) have always been the two close ones,” Elliot said. “We are only three years apart and we have shared a room with each other our whole lives (in Hong Kong). If I’m doing something wrong in training — you can see it on the field — he will call me aside and tell me what I’m doing wrong, tell me to sort it out, and also tell me what I need to do better. It is very helpful because I don’t know where I would be without him today to be honest.”
“It wasn’t until after I moved to boarding school and then he joined me at boarding school that we started to become very very close. Since then we’ve been close to inseparable.”
– Russell Webb
Russell has continuously been there for Elliot and has always looked out for his best interests, whether it be as an athlete or student.
The brotherhood they share is something special and they often spend a great deal of time together, even outside of rugby. On most days, Elliot and Russell eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with one another, and when time permits they enjoy playing FIFA which brings out their competitive spirits. Moments like these allow Elliot to relax, enjoy some quality time with Russell and step away from the rigors of what can be a hectic schedule between school and rugby. On the rugby field, however, Elliot’s time with Russell is strictly business.
“Russell has been the supporting brother,” said Cal rugby head coach Jack Clark. “They play the same position and it would be easy for Russell to just start coaching his brother and he would probably be pretty good at it, but he’s done really well to just be Elliot’s brother and be there for him and certainly help him and answer questions that he has.”
Next fall, Elliot will turn the page and start a new chapter of his time at Cal without Russell in the plot. It will be strange for him to not have his brother here with him in Berkeley, but he knows that regardless of distance, Russell and the rest of his family will always be there for him. Elliot and Russell are not merely brothers, but close friends who have gone through life with one another.
Their time at Cal is a snapshot into a scrapbook of memories that has brought them to three different continents. Not many people get to say they’ve lived in such an array of locales by their early twenties. Elliot will continue his time in Berkeley with his admiration for his brother still heavy on his mind.
“With Elliot having attended the same junior school and now university as Russell, the two of them are particularly close,” said Elliot’s father. “Theirs is a bond that I am sure will be with them forever.”
Ryan Groves covers rugby. Contact him at [email protected]