David grew up in a farming area just outside of Gweru, a city in the Midlands of Zimbabwe. He began playing rugby as an 8 year old at Midlands Christian School.
His family (mom, dad and two younger brothers) moved to Brisbane to start a new life in 2002 after the family farm was taken in the Zimbabwe governments land reform program. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and threw himself into sport, representing the school in rugby, waterpolo, athletics, swimming and cross country before focussing on rugby and waterpolo in his final two years of school, representing Queensland in both sports.
He toured with the Australian Schoolboys rugby team to the UK in December 2005 and on his return moved to Perth to join the Western Force for their inaugural 2006 season on an apprentice contract. After initially being unable to play Super Rugby having not yet turned 18, he made his run-on debut for the Western Force in their last game of the season against the Sharks in Durban.
In 2008 he captained the Australian U20s at the Junior World Championship and then later that year made his Wallaby debut against New Zealand in Hong Kong. In 2010 he was recognised by his peers for his efforts, being awarded the John Eales Medal. In 2011 he played in the Rugby World Cup, where the Wallabies finished third.
In 2012 he captained the Wallabies to a 3-0 series win over Wales in the June tests before picking up what was the first of a succession of knee injuries. He made the move to the ACT Brumbies in 2013 after seven seasons with the Western Force. He played a total of 5 games for the Brumbies in 2013 and 2014 due to two ACL tears and knee reconstructions.
2015 was a huge year, with David returning to his best after a disappointing couple of years. He excelled with the Brumbies during Super Rugby, being acknowledged with the Brett Robinson Brumbies Player of the Year, Best Forward and Fans Choice awards. He was selected for the Wallabies and played a role in Australia's Rugby World Cup campaign, where they lost to New Zealand in the final. David was recognised for his form with a nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year, and won the peer-voted Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) Medal of Excellence and RUPA Fans Choice Award.
Outside of rugby he co-founded EightyTwenty Vision in 2008, an organisation that partnered with a rural Zimbabwean community development organisation working in Nkayi, Zimbabwe. The focus areas were maternal health and food & water security. In 2016 EightyTwenty Vision handed over their partnership to TEAR Australia who have capacity to scale up the project. In 2012 he was named as Western Australia’s ‘Young Australian of the Year'.
After years of involvement in campaigns for action on climate change, David joined the Leard Blockade in November 2014 and chained himself to a superdigger in Maules Creek Coal Mine (in Leard State Forest), with 5th generation farmer, Rick Laird. He was arrested and charged, facing Gunnedah Local Court in February 2015, where the charge was proved but no conviction was recorded.
David is currently studying a Bachelor of Ecological Agricultural Systems and is interested in the food system and how it affects our health, lives and the environment.
He is also an ambassador for conservation organisation Wild Ark, whose mission is to secure and protect areas with high biodiversity to conserve wildlife, while creating research and experience opportunities for people to reconnect with nature and to become inspired to protect it.
Pocock is currently taking a year off from Australian rugby in 2017, signing a two year deal with the Panasonic Wild Knights, where he will play either side of a 6 month break from rugby before returning to Canberra and the ACT Brumbies in 2018.
Photo © Giles Park