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Saturday July 02, 2022

Australia, England replace Cook Cup, honour Indigenous great

The Cook Cup honours the British explorer James Cook, who sailed the Endeavour into Sydney´s Botany Bay on April 29, 1770

By AFP
June 24, 2022
England’s captain Dylan Hartley lifts the Cook Cup after their victory at Twickenham, London, Dec 3, 2016. Photo: AFP
England’s captain Dylan Hartley lifts the Cook Cup after their victory at Twickenham, London, Dec 3, 2016. Photo: AFP 

SYDNEY: Australia and England said Friday they will fight for a new rugby trophy that honours an Indigenous great and a World War I hero, replacing the Cook Cup named after the British explorer.

The new Ella-Mobbs Cup, up for grabs when they face off in Australia next month, celebrates Wallabies legend Mark Ella and former England captain Edgar Mobbs who died in World War I.

The Cook Cup, which has been the prize for the past 25 years, honours the British explorer James Cook, who sailed the Endeavour into Sydney´s Botany Bay on April 29, 1770.

The first contact between the British navigator and Aboriginal people foreshadowed the colonisation of the continent and centuries of dispossession for Indigenous Australians.

Australia and England jointly decided the trophy should "better represent and celebrate the proud rugby history of both nations", they said in a statement.

Fly-half Ella was the first Indigenous Wallabies´ captain and considered one of the most naturally gifted players in Australian rugby.

"He is revered for his enterprising and dynamic style and the unbridled joy that he gave Rugby fans who have had the privilege of watching him," said Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos.

Mobbs played in the first England-Australia Test at Rectory Field in London in 1909, scoring the hosts´ only try in a 9-3 loss to the visitors.

In World War I, he created his own company to join battle after being told he was too old to serve, and was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Mobbs was killed in action in 1917 and his body was never found.

"Today Mobbs is known as much for his heroic bravery as he is for his rugby prowess," said Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney.

The new Ella-Mobbs Cup is to be unveiled in Perth on July 1 ahead of the first Wallabies-England Test the following day.