Adam Phillip Ashley-Cooper
- 800Wallaby Number
Adam Ashley-Cooper enjoyed an illustrious 15-year Wallaby career in which his versatility proved to be crucial to his success. In Dave Campbell’s ‘The Everywhere Man’, Ashley Cooper said, “I’m actually really happy to be branded a utility...I think there was a time when people used to say that utilities get dumped for specialists, but these days versatility can actually enhance your chances of making representative honours.”
What an understatement that quote proved to be as he racked up a number of enviable milestones during his Test career, two of which are worthy of recognition. Firstly, he was just the sixth Wallaby to play 100 Tests and secondly, he scored more Test tries (9) against New Zealand than any other player in the history of the game.
Ashley-Cooper was born in Sydney but raised on the New South Wales central coast. He attended the Berkeley Vale High School but did not play his first game of rugby, with the Ourimbah Razorbacks, until the age of 15. Six months after he left school Ashley-Cooper was playing first grade for Sydney’s Northern Suburbs.
In 2004 he joined the ACT Brumbies on an ARU development contract, played in the IRB Sevens World Series and made the Australian squad for the U21 world championships. A year later he made his Super Rugby debut against the Crusaders in Canberra before he found himself as a spectator at Subiaco Oval for the fourth Test of 2005 against the Springboks. Ashley-Cooper was called from the stands and onto the bench within minutes of the kick-off after Elton Flatley withdrew during the warm-up due to blurred vision. When he ran on late in that match it is believed Ashley-Cooper became the only Wallaby to ever debut without a number on his back.
Over the next 11 seasons Ashley-Cooper was an integral and indispensable component of the national team. He played in 52 of the Wallabies’ 56 Tests between 2008 and 2011 and missed just one of the 42 Tests from 2009 to 2011. He was selected in the run-on XV in 113 of his 121 Tests and played the full 80 minutes on 89 occasions. Ashley-Cooper started at fullback in 24 Tests, on the left wing in 7, on the right wing in 36, at outside centre in 40 and at inside centre in 5. He played 19 Tests for Australia at four Rugby World Cups, second only to George Gregan, and scored 12 tries, second to Drew Mitchell.
Recalled to the Wallaby squad for the 2018 Spring Tour, Ashley-Cooper rounded out his 121 Test and 39 tries (both 3rd all-time for Australia when he retired in 2021) international career at the Japan Rugby World Cup in 2019.
While his stats are undoubtedly impressive, it is nigh impossible to measure the sizable contribution Ashley-Cooper made to the game of rugby in this country.
Represented Australia in the IRB Sevens World Series.
Selected in the Australian squad for the third-annual IRB U21 Rugby World Championships in Scotland.
Selected in the Australian squad for the fourth-annual IRB U21 Rugby World Championships in Argentina. Ashley-Cooper won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Clyde Rathbone at outside centre in the 19-22, 4th Test loss to South Africa in Perth.
Ashley-Cooper made his starting debut at inside centre in the 29-23, 1st Test win over Wales in Sydney. He then scored his first Test try against Fiji in Perth. Ashley-Cooper earned 11 Test caps and was selected in his first Rugby World Cup squad where he played in four of the Wallabies’ five matches.
He earned a further 11 caps, nine of which were as the starting No.15.
Ashley-Cooper was the only Australian back to play in all 14 Tests and he finished the year as the equal highest try scorer (5) with Matt Giteau.
He was capped in 14 of the Wallabies’ 15 Tests, started the season on the left wing and by year end was the incumbent outside centre. Along the way he played his 50th Test against Italy in Firenze.
Ashley-Cooper started in all 13 Wallaby Tests and played all 560 minutes of his second Rugby World Cup. He was top try scorer for the year (6) and bagged his first hat-trick in the pool game win over the U.S.A.
He played in 13 Tests and only missed the home loss to Scotland and the away victory over Argentina.
Ashley-Cooper won 14 caps from a possible 15 Tests. He started at No.13 in all three home Tests against the British & Irish Lions and scored the decisive try in the 2nd Test, 16-15 victory in Melbourne.
He won a further 13 caps, ten of which as the starting right wing. Ashley-Cooper only missed Australia's victory over Argentina on the Gold Coast due to a nerve compression injury. He played his 100th Test in the 28-29, 3rd Test loss to New Zealand in Brisbane.
Ashley-Cooper was capped 10 times and won selection to his third Rugby World Cup. He started on the right wing in six of the seven matches and scored a hat-trick in the semi-final victory over Argentina.
After the Rugby World Cup he joined French Top 14 side Bordeaux Bègles but returned to play in the opening two Tests of the year against New Zealand.
Ashley-Cooper started on the right wing in the 26-7 win over Italy in Rovigo.
In his final season of Test match rugby, Ashley-Cooper picked up four caps including two - against Wales and Uruguay - at the Rugby World Cup.