SYDNEY:- Former Wallaby captain David Pocock was issued with a formal warning by the Australian Rugby Union on Monday after he was arrested and charged over a protest at a coal mine.
Pocock, 26, locked himself onto a digger at the Maules Creek mine in New South Wales on Sunday along with a small group of others to draw attention to its potential environmental impact.
He was arrested after coming down from the machine and was charged with entering and remaining on enclosed land and hindering mine equipment, said Leard Forest Alliance, who were behind the protest.
“While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfill his role as a high-performance athlete,” the ARU said in a statement.
“The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course.”
Pocock was ruled out of rugby for nine months in March following knee surgery but is back training with the ACT Brumbies.
He said he joined the long-running protest and blockade at the mine in support of farmers’ concerns about the impact it had on climate change and on the water table.
“I know some are very uncomfortable with breaking the law, but I feel that non-violent direct action in the face of coal mines and climate change draws on a long history of civil disobedience being used to highlight injustice,” he tweeted on Monday.
Pocock, who was released on bail, is next due to appear in court on January 14, reports said.
The alliance said police have arrested more than 280 people since the blockade started in August 2012.
Whitehaven Coal’s flagship Maules Creek project is set to be one of the world’s largest open-cut coal mines, with construction on the site starting in January this year.
Whitehaven expects that the first coal will be produced in the March quarter of next year.