Rugby Union: All-rounder set to handle a family affair

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The Independent Online
He may have played 50 times for Cambridge University but next week Jonnie Cocks wins his rugby Blue in the Varsity Match. David Llewellyn reports on the English born, Australia educated player who holds a remarkable CV.

The inclusion of Jonnie Cocks at No 8 will add more colour to next week's 116th Varsity match when the Light Blues of Cambridge University go for for a fourth successive victory over Oxford University's Dark Blues.

Apart from his superior handling skills and ability at the line-out Cocks brings a remarkable CV to Twickenham. The 26-year-old Epping born Cocks, who was educated in Australia, is a hell of a sporting all-rounder. He is already a boxing Blue, a rugby league half Blue and is also looking to add a basketball Blue to his collection.

But incredibly the engaging Cocks, the fourth generation of male members of his family to have gone up to Cambridge and the second Rugby Blue after grandfather Frank (1935) will be winning his first Rugby Blue despite having played for the university on 50 occasions in his three years there. "I was pretty disappointed to miss out in the first two years," he admitted, "but when you look at the players who got in it's perfectly understandable; the first year it was Steve Surridge, the All Black No 8, and last year it was Russell Earnshaw. But I've finally got in the side." Dilettante Cocks does not confine his interests solely to sport. Before he left Australia to come up to Cambridge where he is reading management studies, he had been a professional actor.

Interestingly, his selection brings him up against a former adversary from the boxing ring, the Oxford blindside flanker Myles Orsler. The pair met in a heavyweight bout when earning their respective Boxing Blues - Orsler won on points after the three two-minute rounds - and the two of them have kept in touch ever since.

But their rematch, for the Bowring Bowl, looks like going Cambridge's way. Orsler will be winning his third Blue but the signs are that Oxford will again be on the wrong end of the affair. The Dark Blues captain Richie Maher said yesterday: "I don't mind the tag of underdogs but I think we are too evenly matched sides and I think it will be a close game."

Tom Murphy, like Maher an Australian, said: "Their pack is stronger than in previous years but we have also improved and our backs are fantastic. They will have to play very well indeed to beat us."

CAMBRIDGE: P A Surridge (St Kentigern College, Auckland and Hughes Hall); N J Walne (Caerleon Comp and St Catherine's), M P Robinson (Opunake, NZ and Hughes Hall), M C A Denney (Bedford Modern and St Edmund's), N J Hill (St Ignatious Col, Sydney and St Edmund's); R W Ashforth (Bradford GS and Peterhouse), R J Elliott (Durham and St Edmund's); G M Reynolds (Cheshunt and Hughes Hall), T D Murphy (St Joseph's Col, Brisbane and St Edmund's, capt), M T Foulds (Christ Col, Canterbury and Sidney Sussex), R A Bramley (Queen Elizabeth GS, Wakefield and St Edmund's), A M Craig (Tauranga, NZ and Hughes Hall), M J Hyde (St Ignatious Col, Sydney and St Edmund's), H M D Whitford (The Leys and Homerton), J F T Cocks (Newington Col, Sydney and St Edmund's).

OXFORD: R A O Maher (St Ignatious Col, Sydney and University, capt); N J Booth (Lytham St Anne's HS and Worcester), N A Larsen (Hilton Col, Durban and Lincoln), B Rudge (St Edwards, Liverpool and Keble), R J Pollock (Diocesan Col, Cape Town and Keble); T P P Jensen (St Edmund's Col, Canberra and St Anne's), N A Hogan (Terenure Col, Dublin and Merton); R P Lehner (Jesuit HS, Sacramento, Calif and St Anne's), M J Collard (King's School, Parramatta and St Anne's), A Reuben (Solihull and University), T S Eisenhauer (St Ignatious Col, Sydney and St Anne's), A J Roberts (Ampleforth and New), M G P S Orsler (King's, Canterbury and Christ Church), D J Kelaher (St Joseph's Col, Sydney and St Cross), K M J Spicer (Clongowes Wood Col, Dublin and St Anne's).