Pocock retires from pro rugby; ready to tackle conservation

·2-min read
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Australia's David Pocock applauds the crowd after the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium in London. Former Wallabies captain Pocock has quit professional rugby with a year to go on his contract in Japan so he can tackle his next challenge: improving the environment. He plans to devote his time to his conservation projects and the grassroots of the game in Australia and Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2015, file photo, Australia's David Pocock applauds the crowd after the Rugby World Cup final between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium in London. Former Wallabies captain Pocock has quit professional rugby with a year to go on his contract in Japan so he can tackle his next challenge: improving the environment. He plans to devote his time to his conservation projects and the grassroots of the game in Australia and Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

SYDNEY (AP) — Former Wallabies captain David Pocock has quit professional rugby with a year to go on his contract in Japan so he can tackle his next challenge: improving the environment.

He plans to devote his time to his conservation projects and the grassroots of the game in Australia and Zimbabwe.

The 32-year-old backrower played 78 tests for Australia before retiring from international rugby following the World Cup in Japan last year.

The Zimbabwe-born, Australia-raised Pocock made his professional debut 15 years ago at the Western Force and also played at the Canberra-based ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby before finishing up with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan.

He said he was grateful to all the clubs for helping him grown and develop, adding that it was a “huge privilege to represent Australia.”

“As a migrant I was always so aware of the way it reflected something of the best of the Australian spirit, bringing so many cultures together, and I tried not to take that for granted," he said.

Pocock has already started the Rangelands Restoration Trust, which is working on its first project in southern Zimbabwe.

“We’re working to build land use models that regenerate degraded rangelands, while creating wildlife habitat and improving the prosperity of people who depend on the land for their livelihoods,” Pocock said in a statement. “This kind of regenerative agriculture is a critical tool in the midst of the climate and extinction crises we are facing.”

Pocock said he'd been involved for a decade with a development project in rural Zimbabwe and had studied sustainable agriculture in Australia to understand how human health was tied to healthy land.

“Rural communities, and ultimately all of us, depend on the land for survival so if we want a better future, we need models of land management that regenerate degraded land and develop access to markets for rural communities,” he said. “The looming climate and biodiversity crises make building better ways of organizing our lives, our communities and our societies more urgent than ever."

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