Former Wallaby David Pocock is hanging up the boots for good, confirming he’s played his last game of professional rugby union.
- David Pocock is retiring from all forms of professional rugby union
- Pocock captained the Wallabies and played for the ACT Brumbies and Western Force
- He will now turn his attention to conservation projects
The 32-year-old flanker was supposed to play in Japan’s Top League this season but has called time on his 15-year career.
Speaking to the ABC, Pocock said the decision wasn’t easy.
“It’s been a tough decision, but it really feels like the right time to step away from playing rugby and move onto other things,” he said.
“Author Rob Bell once said: ‘You can leave when it feels like a graduation, or you can hang in there and leave when it feels like a divorce.’
“I’m hoping it’s still going to feel like a graduation, but no doubt, like with any life transition, there’s going to be some challenges,” he said.
Pocock, regarded as one of the best openside flankers in the world, played for the ACT Brumbies and Western Force in the Super Rugby between 2006 and 2019, and the Wallabies between 2008 and 2019.
Speaking about his time in the game, he said he’s grateful to have played alongside so many amazing people, and to have had such immense support.
“As an immigrant moving to Australia it’s given me so many opportunities and I feel incredibly grateful for that.
“You really realise just what a myth individual achievement is and how much support you’ve had along the way and how much else goes into you being able to do what you do.”
The Zimbabwean-born Pocock moved to Brisbane with his family in 2002.
He debuted with the Perth-based Western Force as an 18-year-old and two years later he ran onto the field for the Wallabies.
“I was pretty pumped about the opportunity and enjoyed my time in Perth,” he said.
In 2012, he captained the Wallabies to a 3-0 series win over Wales in the June tests, just before picking up the first of a succession of knee injuries.
In 2013, after seven seasons with the Western Force, he moved over to the ACT Brumbies. But back-to-back knee reconstructions meant he only got to play five games across his first two years there.
But in 2015, Pocock returned to his best. He excelled at the Brumbies, was selected for the Wallabies and snagged a swathe of awards.
Pocock ended up playing in three World Cups, which he says were a real highlight of his career.
“They all ended in disappointment, but they are kind of the pinnacle of our game and to be able to experience that was a real thrill,” he said.
“I think when you think back its often little moments with teammates or special times with family around games that really stand out.”
Playing in some of those matches and others in his career, Pocock wore the Indigenous jersey.
The Wallabies are set to wear it again in their next test against the All Blacks on October 31.
Wallabies back Dane Haylett-Petty previously said the group would consider taking a knee at that match in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but coach Dave Rennie says that won’t happen.
“Our focus is around the First Nations people and the Indigenous jersey, we’re not looking to make a political statement,” he said.
“We met with the leaders and the leaders met with the team. It’s a unanimous decision.”
Pocock said he’d support the team’s choice.
“I really think it’s up to them, they’re the ones out there wearing that jersey.
“I’m sure there are some good conversations about what’s going to honour that jersey the most, what’s going to hopefully unify people and raise what I think is a really important issue that’s not getting the attention at a political level in Australia.”
What’s next for David Pocock?
Pocock’s interest in conservation is well-known, so it’s no surprise that’s the direction he’s taking beyond rugby.
“I’ve been working on a project in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“It’s kind of regenerative agriculture meets community development and conservation. We’re starting to make some progress with that and hopefully head over there once things settle a bit and get stuck in.”
He’s passionate about bringing attention to climate change, and awareness to biodiversity and the rate of extinctions.
“I think regenerative agriculture offers some solutions to both of those, in terms of carbon sequestration and drawing down some of the emissions, creating healthier food, but then also creating habitat for wildlife.
“I find it really interesting and exciting and I’ve enjoyed learning more about it. It’s going to be good to have more time to dedicate to that.
“We’ve been doing a pretty rotten job of looking after the places that we live and I think that can change,” he said.
As for rugby, he’ll definitely stay connected to it both here and overseas.
“I’m an ambassador for a schoolboy rugby program in Western Australia where they’re looking to get a lot more schools playing rugby,” he said.
“Having had my first opportunity as a teenager in Perth I’m really keen to get behind that and hopefully give more kids that opportunity.”
“Then I’ve been talking to Zimbabwe rugby about ways that I can potentially give back there and they’re really keen to try and qualify for the next world cup, so we’ll see what that looks like.”
So we might be seeing David Pocock at another World Cup after all.