The Wallabies will reportedly no longer be fighting for the Cook Cup when they take on England in Test rugby. The crystal trophy will be renamed to better represent the history of the sport.
Since the beginning of rugby union’s professional era, Australia and England have competed over a 25-year-old crystal trophy named after Captain James Cook, the British explorer credited with discovering Australia in the 18th century.
But as first reported by the Sydney Morning Heraldthe Cook Cup will be replaced by the Ella-Mobbs Trophy ahead of this winter’s three Test series in Australia.
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The new trophy is named after large indigenous wallaby Mark Ella, believed to be one of Australia’s largest fly-halves, and English war hero Edgar Mobbs, who represented England in seven Tests before being gunned down in France in 1917.
Rugby Australia and the RFU agreed on the change, which will be announced ahead of the first Test at Perth Stadium in July.
“Australia and England first played each other in a test match in London in 1909,” said an RFU spokesman The times.
“With such a long history together, Rugby Australia and Rugby Football Union have decided that the trophy should better represent the proud rugby history of both nations.”
Cook has become a divisive figure in recent years – a statue of the British sailor in Melbourne was vandalized on Australia Day in January, with the memorial being doused in red paint by protesters.
Former wallaby Glen Ella, Mark’s twin brother, believed the name change was a respectful gesture to First Nations people.
“The majority of Native Americans wouldn’t want that (Cook’s name) on the trophy,” he said Sydney Morning Herald.
“I personally don’t have a problem, it doesn’t really worry me. But to do the right thing by the Aborigines, yes I understand why they made that call.
“Elders are still very concerned about this so they are doing the right thing and are looking to change the name to something more rugby related and not carry those connotations.
“I just think they could do a lot more to get Aboriginal children playing rugby.
“I say this all the time, look at the other codes, AFL and NRL and you see how many fantastic players we play in those codes. We have a few in NSW and ACT but that’s just a handful of players. There’s still more to do there.”
Speaking of 4 vrugby journalist Georgina Robinson confirmed that having Cook’s name on the trophy was “a bit awkward”.
“You can’t erase history,” she said. “He’s a guy who’s sailed all the way and charted the east coast of Australia. His post will never be deleted.
“But Rugby Australia thought there was a better way to honor Australia-England rugby history.
“I think it’s okay to move with the times … but its arrival also had a lot of negative effects.”
However, the announcement was met with backlash from some commentators, with Sky News host Chris Kenny calling the move a “canceling culture manifesto”.
“Are we trying to erase Captain James Cook from our history?” Kenny asked.
“Of course we’ve seen his statue vandalized in the past.
“Tradition is tradition because it stays.
“Traditional honors should not be left to the zeitgeist.”
The first Test between Australia and England begins on Saturday 2 July at Perth Stadium with kick-off scheduled for 19.55 AEST.