Rocky Elsom

Last updated

Rocky Elsom
Rocky Elsom 2011 (cropped).jpg
Birth nameRocky Elsom
Date of birth (1983-02-14) 14 February 1983 (age 36)
Place of birth Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Height1.97 m (6 ft 5 12 in)
Weight112 kg (17 st 9 lb) [1]
School St Joseph's College, Nudgee
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Senior career
Kobelco Steelers
Correct as of 23 November 2014
Super Rugby
Correct as of 19 May 2012
National team(s)
Australian Schoolboys


Correct as of 16 October 2011

Rocky Elsom (born 14 February 1983) is a former Australian rugby union player. He played the positions of flanker and number eight. He was selected for 75 caps for Australia. He is the most capped Australian blindside flanker. Rocky was the 76th Australian test captain, having replaced Stirling Mortlock in 2009 for two years. Rocky Elsom played for the Wallabies from 2005 until 2011. Rocky Elsom played professionally for New South Wales, Brumbies and Leinster.

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, widely known simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.

Flanker (rugby union) playing position in rugby union

Flanker is a position in the sport of rugby union. Each team of 15 players includes two flankers, who play in the forwards, and are generally classified as either blindside or openside flankers, numbers 6 and 7 respectively. The name comes from their position in a scrum in which they 'flank' each set of forwards. They compete for the ball – most commonly in rucks and mauls. Flankers also assist in pushing in a scrum, but are expected to detach from the scrum as soon as the ball is out to get to the play before the opposition's forwards. Flankers also participate in line-outs, either being lifted to contest or win possession, or to lift other players. Flankers are usually the key participants in the tackling process. The flankers, especially the openside, are often the fastest forwards on the team but still relied upon for tackling.

Australia national rugby union team national team representing Australia in rugby union

The Australia national rugby union team, nicknamed the Wallabies, is controlled by Rugby Australia. The team first played at Sydney in 1899, winning their first test match against the touring British Isles team.


Elsom is one of Australia's most decorated players, having won Herald Super 14 player of the year in 2007, Wallaby of the year in 2008, European Player of the Year in 2009 and inducted into the European Cup Hall of Fame in 2010. [2] He also holds the record for most tries by a Wallaby forward and is one of only a handful of Australians to win a Heineken Cup medal twice. Brian O'Driscoll once lauded Elsom as the best player in the world. [3]

Elsom's post rugby career started in spectacular fashion, taking over RCNM Racing Club Narbonne Mediterranean in 2013. [4] RCNM's 2013/14 season, Elsom's first at the 110 year old club, broke every major record in the club's history, except for highest individual point scorer [5] and according to the LNR, occurred with the lowest player spend and lowest central funding in the league. [6] Elsom's low-cost, lightly-staffed, profitable model attracted the attention of the Qatar Investment Fund, with RCNM being pursued by its Chairman & CEO in 2015. [7]

Racing Club de Narbonne Méditerannée is a French rugby union club that play in the third-level Federale 1.


Elsom has had an international career spanning 75 matches along with 64 Super Rugby Caps and 21 caps for Dublin-based province Leinster. In his career Elsom has won NSW Waratah of the Year 2007, Herald Super 14 Player of the Year, Wallaby of the Year, Leinster Rugby Player of the Year, Magners League Player of the Year and European player of the Year. In 2010 Elsom was named at blindside flanker in a European dream team by the ERC to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Heineken Cup, this came despite him only spending one season with Leinster such was his impact during the tournament that year. Elsom was also awarded the Waratah Medal for outstanding contribution to NSW Rugby in 2007. Elsom is one of only a handful of Australian players that have won a European Cup and is the only current top class test player to have been in the starting XV for every one of his 40 test caps. Elsom's career has not been without controversy with a couple of suspensions one of which was later overturned. Also a drawn-out feud with the ARU over the terms of his contract led to an unusual early release on 'compassionate grounds' to join Leinster in 2008. This resulted in Elsom being deemed 'unavailable' 2008 Wallaby Spring tour despite being named Wallaby of the Year 1 month earlier. 10 days after a 'Man of the Match' performance in Leinster's victory in the 2009 Heineken Cup Final against Leicester Tigers Elsom negotiated a return to Australia and the test arena agreeing to terms with the ARU and ACT Brumbies.

European Rugby Cup

European Rugby Cup Ltd was the governing body and organiser of the two major European rugby union club tournaments; the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup. It was replaced by the European Professional Club Rugby governing body in 2014.

Leicester Tigers English rugby union club

Leicester Tigers is an English professional rugby union club based in Leicester, England. They play in Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby.

Early career

Elsom was born in Melbourne and was educated at St. Joseph's Nudgee College in Brisbane where he was captain of the rugby union side; he went on to make the Australian Schoolboys side. He was a fast, agile forward for a young man of his size. He was nearly 100 kg when he finished in the Australian Schoolboys side.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Brisbane capital city of Queensland, Australia

Brisbane is the capital of and the most populated city in the Australian state of Queensland, and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2.5 million as of 30 June 2018, and the South East Queensland metropolitan region, centred on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3.6 million.

The Australian Schoolboys refer to junior teams that represent Australia in various sports. The name is mainly used in rugby league, rugby union and baseball. Other popular team sports in Australia such as cricket, basketball, association football (soccer) and Australian rules football generally use age related team names, such as Under 18s, rather than the schoolboys title.

Rugby League

Following Elsom's success on the schoolboy stage, he spent two seasons with the Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league club in Sydney and was a front-rower prop in their 2001 premiership-winning Jersey Flegg Cup side. During that time he lived with fellow Bulldogs players including future test star Johnathan Thurston, Nate Myles, Roy Asotasi and dual-code international, Sonny Bill Williams, whom he would go on to meet on two occasions at test level in rugby union. They resided in a Bulldogs-owned cottage called the ‘Dog House’ in Belmore. [8]

Jersey Flegg Cup

The Jersey Flegg Cup is a junior rugby league competition played in New South Wales, contested among teams made up of players aged 20 or under. The competition is administered by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL), and is named for Eastern Suburbs foundation player and prominent administrator of the game, Harry "Jersey" Flegg.

Nate Myles Australian rugby league player

Nate Myles is an Australian former rugby league footballer who last played for the Melbourne Storm in the National Rugby League. A Queensland State of Origin and Australia national representative forward, he previously played for the Bulldogs, Roosters, Titans and Sea-Eagles.

Roy Asotasi New Zealand rugby league footballer

Roy Asotasi is a former professional rugby league footballer who played as a prop in the 2000s and 2010s. A New Zealand international captain, he also played for Samoa. Asotasi played in the NRL for Australian clubs the Bulldogs and the South Sydney Rabbitohs from 2007 to 2013. He then played in the Super League for the Warrington Wolves.

Waratahs & Australia

Elsom (Number 6) takes a lineout against Ireland at the RWC 2011 Australia vs Ireland 2011 RWC (2).jpg
Elsom (Number 6) takes a lineout against Ireland at the RWC 2011

He returned to rugby union in 2003, making his debut in Super Rugby against the Auckland Blues for the Waratahs. He also co-captained of the Australian Under 21s at the 2003 under-21 World Cup.

He continued to progress in the Australian rugby scene, featuring in 12 of the Waratahs 13 games during the 2005 season.[ citation needed ] A good Waratahs season which saw the side make it to the final, only to be defeated by the Crusaders, saw Elsom selected as number six for the opening Wallaby test of 2005 against Samoa. Making his debut against Samoa along with Hugh McMeniman and hooker Stephen Moore. Elsom scored the opening try of the match and went on to hold his place as Australia's first choice number six despite strong competition. In 2005, Elsom re-signed with the 'Tahs', which saw him stay at the New South Wales franchise until the end of the 2008 Super 14 season.

In 2007 Elsom was named captain of the Waratahs for their week 12 clash with the Highlanders in Sydney and also brought up his 50th appearance for the Waratahs. Elsom also received the Matt Burke Cup for the Waratahs in 2007 along with the Herald Award for the best performing Super 14 player of 2007 and the NSW Medal for outstanding contribution to NSW rugby. In 2007, Elsom was named the most valuable flanker in Australia. In his world cup debut against Japan, he scored a hat-trick of tries and set a world record for the fastest hat-trick by a forward in World Cup history (18.33 minutes).[ citation needed ] In late 2007 Elsom played Number Eight in the Barbarians VS. South Africa match where he scored an unforgettable try early in the second half which helped the Barbarians push past the World Champion South Africa.

In 2008 Elsom was awarded the 'Wallaby of the Year' after playing in all but one match of the Wallaby's Tri-nations tests and scoring a crucial try to defeat the All Blacks in Sydney. That year, Elsom signed a one-year deal with Irish provincial side Leinster to join them in September 2008. He developed into one of the dominant members of the Australian forward pack, becoming the first choice blindside flanker after starting in all but one of the Wallabies 20 Test matches over 2007-8.


In 2009 Elsom was awarded 'Leinster Rugby Player of the Year' winning an unprecedented 70% of the popular vote. Elsom the only non-Irish winner of the award was also voted 'European Player of the Year 2008/09' after Leinster won the Heineken Cup with 3 man of the match performances from Leinster's six wins. In the Magners League Elsom picked up 11 'Man of the Match' awards from his last 13 outings and was judged the 'Magners League Player of the Year 2008/9' as well as being included in both Celtic and European 'Dream Teams' along with fellow Leinster player Brian O'Driscoll. So popular did Elsom become during his time with Leinster, that the fans developed a ‘Rocky’ chant, taken from the Rocky films, which they rolled out every time the Australian flanker appeared in Leinster colours.[ citation needed ] Elsom moved to Leinster Rugby in 2008, with a view to competing in the Heineken Cup. He was instrumental in Leinster winning their first title, awarded man of the match in two of the three playoff games, including the final, where he was credited with inspiring the pack to a 19–16 victory over the Leicester Tigers. He is a massive physical presence in the pack, consistently breaking top level tackles. In May 2009, Elsom was named in the Barbarians squad to play England and Australia along with Leinster colleagues Gordon D'Arcy and Chris Whitaker . [9] [10]

Return to Australia

In June 2009 he signed a two-year contract with the ACT Brumbies, citing his desire to resume his international career with the Wallabies as the deciding factor in his decision. [11] Back after a stint with Irish club Leinster in the European Cup and Celtic League, Elsom started his fifth season as a member of the Wallabies and joined a select group of Australian players who have surpassed a half century of Test caps. Prior to his time in Dublin, which saw him miss Australia's Spring Tour, Elsom had established himself as a regular fixture in the Wallabies side, starting in 31 of the 32 Tests which he was available for since the beginning of 2006. Elsom made a major impact at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, scoring three tries in his first World Cup match against Japan, which saw him take out the Man of the Match honours. He was then man of the match again when Australia broke its eight-year drought on South African soil by beating the Springboks 27–15 at Durban in 2008. Elsom joined the CA Brumbies in 2010 on a two-year contract but injuries restricted him to 13 appearances. [12]

He was picked in the 45-man squad to tour Britain and Ireland in November 2009, and became Australia's 76th test captain, replacing Stirling Mortlock. [13] At the end of the tour, his captaincy record for the Wallabies stood at two wins (against England and Wales), two losses (against New Zealand and Scotland), and a draw against Ireland in which he scored a try at the 60th minute to put his team back in front.

In the first Bledisloe Cup Match of 2010, Elsom captained his side to a brave defeat, where the Wallabies managed to put 28 points on the All Blacks with only 14 men for more than 50 minutes of the game after Drew Mitchell was controversially sent off. Elsom himself scored the last try for the Wallabies. [14] He agreed to rejoin the NSW Waratahs on a one-year deal. [15]

In 2013, Elsom signed with French Top 14 giants Toulon, following his release from the Waratahs and a prolonged legal battle with Japanese Top League with Kobe Steelers.

He is currently a player, as well as the major shareholder of French ProD2 team RC Narbonne and is implementing a World Class S&C program as well as innovating in recruitment, preparation and development of better Rugby players.


In March 2006, Elsom was suspended for four weeks for fighting with South African Prop Jaco Engels. [16] The incident was in retaliation to Engels joining a fight between NSW Prop Matt Dunning and Richard Bands in a Super 12 Match in Pretoria. Englis and Dunning received 1 and 3 weeks suspension for their part in the incident, while Elsom's heftier ban was justified by repeated blows to the head of an opponent.

In late 2008, Elsom retaliated to Connacht lock Mike McCarthy after he had been head-butted, throwing a punch at McCarthy's head despite being held back by several Leinster and Connacht players. Elsom was yellow carded and McCarthy was red carded, because he had already been sin binned previously in the game. [17] [18]



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  1. "Brumbie Profiles - Elsom, Rocky". Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  2. "EPCR | European Professional Club Rugby". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  3. "Brian O'Driscoll lauds Rocky Elsom the best after Leinster takes European Cup". TheAustralian. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  4. "Elsom driving force in saving French club". TheAustralian. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  5. "Au Racing, ce fut la saison de tous les records". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  6. "Rapport DNACG" (PDF). NLR. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  7. "Qatar looking to buy Narbonne". Rugby World. 1 December 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  8. Rocky Elsom: Leader of the Wallabies, by Bret Harris, p.62.
  9. "D'Arcy And Murphy Named In Barbarians Squad". Irish Rugby. 12 May 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2010.[ dead link ]
  10. Rugby: Whitaker added to Baa-baas squad.[ dead link ]
  11. "Elsom re-signs with ARU after European sojourn". The Guardian. London. 21 April 2008.
  12. "Ankle injury ends Elsom's Brumbies run". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  13. Elsom to lead Wallabies spring tour Archived 12 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Smith, Wayne (5 August 2010). "Wallabies facing a 'problem' referee". The Australian. News. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  15. Rocky Elsom returns to the Waratahs
  16. "Rocky Elsom hit with four-week ban". Rugby365. 26 February 2006. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
Preceded by
George Smith
Australian national rugby union captain
Succeeded by
James Horwill