Ben Cohen and Joe Roff, two of the highest scoring wings in international rugby, and strangely similar in physique and style, embark on very different career paths this week. While the Englishman has to earn a crust in France, the Australian plays his last match today, leading Oxford against Cambridge in the 126th Varsity match at Twickenham.
Cohen's move to Brive reverses the trend of overseas players joining the Guinness Premiership. "I'm a competitor and I hope to use my experience to help the club," he said, after signing a contract to 2009. "I accept I will have to find my place in the team."
Brive are bottom of the French championship after losing their opening four matches, prompting club president Patrick Sbastien to remark, somewhat pessimistically: "The train we are on is heading straight for Division Two." Cohen is familiar with the journey.
He left Northampton last season, buying himself out of his contract, after they were relegated from the Premiership and a move to Leicester fell through because the salary cap failed to fit. Capped 57 times by England, he had a great strike-rate, scoring 31 tries and was a member of the World Cup winning team in Australia in 2003.
Roff, at 32 three years older than Cohen, was a key figure in Australia's World Cup winning team in 1999. In 86 appearances for the Wallabies he scored 30 Test tries.
"To finish on the Twickenham stage is a good way to go out," Roff said. "My wife has told me to stop embarrassing myself so I'm hanging up my boots. There's something very special about the Varsity match. It's still one of the most important games in world rugby." Steady on Joe. Roff, who is nearing the end of a two-year course in philosophy, politics and economics, played for the Dark Blues 12 months ago when they were beaten 15-6.
Another Australian, Brent Cockbain, who became a resident Welshman, has probably burnt his Severn Bridge by moving from the Ospreys to Sale. At the age of 33 Cockbain, who won 24 caps and was a member of Wales' Grand Slam team in 2005, was omitted from Gareth Jenkins' World Cup squad. The lock forward is not holding his breath that Warren Gatland, Jenkins's successor, will revive his Test career. "Most of us know little about him," Cockbain said. "He has more details on us than vice versa. Whether he can break people as he's promised... maybe some need it. He will have a lot of fun trying to break me."Reuse content