Parents of Ioane brothers on what it’s like to have two All Black sons

By Jessica Tyson

The All Blacks' 38-21 victory over the Wallabies in the weekend was extra special with two sets of brothers in the starting XV - the two Ioane brothers and the three Barrett brothers.

But it was a few impressive plays by the Ioane brothers, Reiko and Akira, that gave New Zealanders, every reason to celebrate.

Reiko scorched a 38.5 kilometre an hour run to prevent a Wallaby try, and Akira's powerful and destructive display helped him secure Player of the Match.

Their parents Sandra and Eddie say watching their sons play for the All Blacks was “extra special.”

“We missed their games when Aki played his first test last year in Australia due to Covid so it was good to see them when they were over here for the two Bledisloes and for Tonga and against Tonga and Fiji.”

Talent must run in the family with both parents being former professional rugby players. However, Eddie says the sport is quite different nowadays.

Professional era

“I went at the start of the professional era and the boys were brought up into it. They’re earning their money over here in New Zealand, whereas I went abroad. That opportunity may come to them later on,” Eddie says.

Sandra was a former lock and loose forward for the Black Ferns.

“I give my opinions to them but they just take it with a grain of salt. They keep telling me ‘That’s back in the old days mum. Everything’s changed’. They’re proud of what both Dad and I have achieved so they’re a different breed to us really.”

Eddie and Sandra say it was always a priority for their sons to do well academically, which they did.

“But when that pathway for rugby came along and they started making those teams we thought they might have an opportunity there.

Avoiding social media

"They both got picked up for the sevens while they were at school and they’ve just kicked on from there, so it's just been a great journey and a good ride for us as parents following us around,” Eddie says.

The parents say they are there for their sons to give moral and family support.

“Just the little bits that the public don’t see. At home, it’s a safe environment … We’ll have a look at the game and review the game.”

However, they avoid talking about anything related to what people say on social media.

“All sportspeople, they go through a hard time. People don’t realise it, especially now,"  Eddie says.

“Social media it’s crazy not only rugby but all sports. It might not affect the player but it can affect the whānau, friends. If they might not see something somebody else might bring it up. So you’ve just got to keep it basic when you’re at home.”

The parents say they are encouraging their sons to also focus on academic studies while they continue their professional sporting careers.