Arguably the golden age for Australian Rugby Union was during the 90s. The Wallabies started the decade by winning the Rugby World Cup in 1991 and finished it by again winning the cup in 1999. A third of the Wallabies victories in the Bledisloe Cup 80+ year history was also during this decade.
By no coincidence John Eales international career closely matches this period. Eales first game for the Wallabies was in 1991. For the next decade he went on to play 86 international matches, 60 of which he captained. He played in both Wallabies World Cup victories and was also awarded the Order of Australia in 1999 after captaining the Wallabies to victory.
For his domination of the game he was given the nickname “Nobody” because, as we all know, “nobody’s perfect”.
Before this Rugby World Cup year, there has not been much to get excited about in Australian Rugby on the international stage.
The Wallabies have not won the world cup since 1999. They have not won the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 and have slid down world rankings to 6th place. But in that darkness there was a glimmer of light and that glimmer had a name – David Pocock.
Pocock made his Wallabies debut in 2008 and won the John Eales medal in 2010. He currently has 50+ Wallabies caps and briefly was the stand in captain in 2012 while James Horwill was injured. After 2 knee reconstructions Pocock finally got back onto the field for the Brumbies 2015 Super Rugby season.
Pocock has been instrumental for Australia in the lead up to the current World Cup final. He has smashed it on turnovers (14 and the most of anyone at the Cup), has scored two tries and is tipped to be player of the tournament. There is no doubt that when Pocock is in the team the Wallabies are a better side.
But more than looking promising on the field, he is looking promising off the field.
As previously mentioned in multiple articles here, too often Australian sports stars are famous for taking drugs, glassing girlfriends, sexual assault, animal cruelty, ‘bubbling’ and generally behaving like idiots. So there is something refreshing in seeing a sports star risk their career for principled positions that are beyond their own self-interest.
Pocock instead has been famous for a different type of controversial action. He is more comfortable protesting new coal mines, signing a letter to the UN on the same matter, fighting homophobia on and off the field, learning sign language and politely correcting mistaken journalists (while scoring three tries). He has even put out an invitation to David Attenborough to attend the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand (making Attenborough the only Englishman to make it the the RWC final).
Regardless of how you feel about these individual actions, they indicate that there is much more to Pocock than what’s on the playing field. He has gained the respect of teammates through his actions on and off the field. Even Eales praised his leadership earlier this year when his off the field stances became on the field principles.
After Eales retired he went on to write 2 books and started several successful businesses. He continued his over-achieving awesomeness long after rugby which just goes to show that his hard working attitude is ingrained into his personality.
In 2015 Pocock has helped reinstate Australian to it’s rightful number 2 position on the world standings, He has become the unofficial leader of the Wallabies and he has single handedly raised the profile, for the better, of Rugby Union in Australia.
If he continues to break the stereotypical sports star ‘bad boy’ image and inspire young rugby players on and off the field he will have done something that even Eales could never do – change the attitudes (and maybe even behaviour!) of Australian athletes for the better.
If Pocock can do this then he will earn the title as a true ‘Nobody’.
 Truism yet to be calculated.