Rugby Union

Former Wallabies captain David Pocock stands by decision to protest despite arrest

Former Wallabies captain David Pocock has no regrets about chaining himself to mining equipment as part of a protest against a northern NSW coalmine, despite police arresting and charging him on the weekend and then the Australian Rugby Union issuing him with a written warning on Monday.

Pocock was one of nine protesters charged at a Maules Creek coalmine site on Sunday and is due to appear at the Narrabri Local Court on January 14 after being charged with entering enclosed land without lawful excuse, remaining on enclosed land without lawful excuse and hindering the working of mining equipment.

David Pocock during Brumbies training last week.
David Pocock during Brumbies training last week. Photo: Melissa Adams

In a statement to ACT Brumbies members on Monday, the flanker said it was the first time he had protested in this way because he was always concerned about what it would mean to his career. But he said his parents had always encouraged him to have the courage of his convictions, so he decided to take part in the non-violent protest at the Leard State Forest.

He was chained to a super-digger with local farmer Rick Laird and hopes his actions will encourage further discussion about climate change.

Twitter selfie of David Pocock and Maules Creek farmer Rick Laird during their protest.
Twitter selfie of David Pocock and Maules Creek farmer Rick Laird during their protest. 

"If I ask myself the question, 'What would I want people to do to help me if I was in Rick Laird's position?' then I know I made the right decision," Pocock said.

"While people may not agree with me being arrested, I hope they will see this as an opportunity to further the conversation about climate change and engage more people in helping to shape what is all of our futures."

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Pocock was released on bail and was back training with the Brumbies on Monday as he continues his return from a second knee reconstruction, pushing to play in the round-one Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium.

Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards said no further action would be taken against Pocock other than the written warning.

He said the Super Rugby province knew there were social issues Pocock was passionate about, which also include the legalisation of gay marriage.

Edwards said there hadn't been much reaction from Brumbies fans.

"This is obviously something that's passionate to David as an individual and something that he's been passionate about for a long time. However, we do not condone any activity that warrants charges being laid," he said.

"Because it's before the courts, we won't comment further.

"We haven't had much backlash here at Brumbies headquarters, whether rightly or wrongly; we haven't been inundated with people giving us their comments either way."

The ARU was unsure whether any possible conviction would affect Pocock's ability to be selected for future Wallabies tours.

Some countries, most notably the US, can restrict entry to anyone with a criminal record.

 "The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest yesterday," the ARU said in a statement. "While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we've made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete. The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course."