Rugby Union

'We need more David Pococks': Clyde Rathbone

 Former Australian Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone says the world needs "more David Pococks", confident the ACT Brumbies flanker will not buckle to criticism of his outspoken stance against on-field homophobic slurs even if it was to jeopardise his rugby ambitions.

Pocock has been subjected to some public backlash for making on-field complaints to the referee during Sunday's Super Rugby match, with NSW Waratahs forward Jacques Potgieter since fined $20,000 for making the comments.

David Pocock, left, with Clyde Rathbone during their time at the Brumbies.
David Pocock, left, with Clyde Rathbone during their time at the Brumbies.  Photo: Getty Images

Former Wallabies player Greg Martin suggested Pocock's on-field approach could splinter the Australian playing group, adding Pocock would "pay for it". "It will mean that he will never captain the Wallabies again," Martin said on Brisbane radio.

But Rathbone said adverse reaction to Pocock's stance showed sport still had a long way to go to address homophobia.

Rathbone wrote a column for Fairfax Media in April last year about a close friend who had been secretly dealing with their homosexuality in professional sport.

"Words such as 'faggot' and 'homo' are not accepted in most workplaces, but in the testosterone-driven world of men's sport, they remain commonplace," Rathbone wrote at the time.


Rathbone's friend, referred to as John, said: "I don't want people not to say what they think, I want them to realise how ignorant their words are and recognise the harm that these words can do."

Rathbone said the days has gone when what happens on the field, stays on the field.

"The fact people have come out and attacked Dave shows how far we've still got to go on this issue," Rathbone said.

"He's a strong guy and he can weather this. If anything it'll reinforce his beliefs in this issue, which I think it should do. I don't think he'll be wilted by any of this. If anything he's the type of character who will think 'there you go', this is why I've got to keep saying this."

Rathbone admitted the ARU would be "nervous" about Pocock's resolute beliefs outside rugby, the 26-year-old arrested during the pre-season for chaining himself to machinery in protest at the Maules Creek coal mine. But Rathbone said: "We need more Dave Pococks".

"Leadership is doing what's right when it's most difficult to do what's right," Rathbone said.

"Knowing Dave well, if it did jeopardise his rugby in some way he would still do it. It's more important to him to be able to look himself in the mirror having retained his integrity rather than playing the game, toeing the line and basically dancing.

"What Dave is doing is about authenticity and truth. This idea that we should deal with this behind closed doors, this is not for public consumption, that needs to be readjusted ... like it or not there's [on-field] cameras, microphones, everything, this is the world we live in now."

Rathbone described Potgieter's penalty as "harsh". 

"But it needed to be harsh. Jacques has paid a heavy penalty and he's been made an example of, as their line in the sand, and I think that's a good thing ultimately."