John Robert Cocks

  • 85Age
PositionHalfback
Date Of Birth8 April 1936
Place Of BirthSydney
SchoolBarker College
ProvinceVIC

Biography

John Cocks was a career half back with impeccable handling and meticulous attention to detail who fought his way from Victorian rugby onto the 1958 Wallaby tour of New Zealand.

Cocks played his first rugby for Killara Preparatory School on Sydney’s northern shore before he moved onto secondary school at Barker College. In 1953, his final year, Cocks captained the 1st XV and from there won selection in the Combined Associated Schools 2nd XV.

After graduation Cocks left Sydney to study Medicine at the University of Melbourne. In 1954 he captained the Victorian U19 XV and the following season earned a state debut for the senior XV on their tour of southern New South Wales. Two years later Cocks faced a daunting debut against international opposition when Victoria hosted the might of New Zealand at Olympic Park (L 3-28). He was later invited to play in the trials ahead of the Fourth Wallabies tour to the U.K. and Europe. Unfortunately the timing of the trials clashed with a Medicine exam that, if missed, would have forced Cocks to repeat a year of his degree. As a consequence Cocks made the agonisingly difficult decision to knock back the invitation to trial in order to focus on his studies.

In 1958 Cocks captained the Combined Australian University XV against Queensland and then led Victoria at the Wallaby trials ahead of the tour to New Zealand. After NSW II defeated Victoria by 40-11 it was written that “the halves Don Logan and Ron Harvey, played their way into the touring side”. Nonetheless, a day later Bob Davidson, the Fourth Wallabies captain, the incumbent New South Wales captain, and the man who had led Australia in the first home Test against the Maori just five weeks earlier plus four others -- Logan (who had debuted in the 1st Maori Test) and Harvey included -- were surprisingly omitted from the squad. 

In what appeared to be a calculated strategy, after a long run of disappointing results, the selectors chose just nine of the side that had toured to the U.K. and Europe in 1957/58. Cocks, despite a suspected broken hand, was named as back-up half to Queensland’s highly impressive Des Connor. The Victorian made his debut for Australia, alongside Arthur Summons, in the uncapped 11-9 win over Wanganui. He played a total of four matches on tour however Connor was preferred for each of the three Tests.   

The next season Cocks played against the Lions (L 18-53) but then stepped away from rugby in order to sit his final exams for Medicine. That decision was vindicated when Cocks graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery. Cocks’ rugby hiatus extended throughout the 1960 season after he became a Resident Medical Officer at Alfred Hospital. He resumed his football career with the Melbourne RUFC in 1961, and again represented Victoria however by 1963 Cocks had moved to the U.K. in order to further his studies in Surgery. While in England Cocks was bestowed with a Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons. He returned to Australian in 1969 as Assistant Surgeon and Casualty Surgeon at Alfred Hospital, Senior Lecturer at Prince Henry's Hospital and became a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons. He was appointed to the surgical staff at Box Hill Hospital in 1970 and retired in 1999.

 

Highlights

1958
Cocks started four matches on the tour of New Zealand - vs. Wanganui at Spriggens Park (W 11-9); vs. Nelson at Trafalgar Park (W 20-11); vs. Southland at Invercargill (L 8-26); and vs. Manawatu at Palmerston North (L 6-12).

 
John Robert Cocks