Will Carling

William David Charles Carling, OBE (born 12 December 1965) is an English former rugby union player. He played for Rosslyn Park, Harlequins and England, winning 72 caps from 1988 to 1996, and captaining England 59 times.

Will Carling
Birth nameWilliam David Charles Carling
Date of birth (1965-12-12) 12 December 1965 (age 55)
Place of birthBradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight90 kg (198 lb; 14 st 2 lb)
SchoolSedbergh School
UniversityHatfield College, Durham
Rugby union career
Position(s) Centre
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1987–2000 Harlequins ()
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British and Irish Lions

Early lifeEdit

The son of Lt Col Bill Carling and his first wife,[1] Will Carling attended Terra Nova School in Cheshire and then Winder House, Sedbergh School, on an army scholarship. He later graduated with a degree in Psychology from Hatfield College, University of Durham.[2]

Rugby careerEdit

Carling played for Rosslyn Park and then joined Harlequins, where he specialised as a centre. In 1988, he became England captain at the age of 22. He was the most successful holder of the post until Martin Johnson's period. His first match as captain was a shock win over Australia by 28–19. During his time he led England to back-to-back Five Nations Grand Slam victories (1991, 1992) and another Grand Slam in 1995, scoring six tries from outside centre in the Championship, and several more in other matches. While regarded as a less complete player than his centre partner, Jeremy Guscott, Carling and his team reached the final of the 1991 Rugby World Cup. After Carling's retirement as captain, no England team managed a Five (or Six) Nations Grand Slam until 2003.

Under Carling England started to challenge and beat the established rugby union powers such as New Zealand and Australia, and their success helped to make rugby union a more popular sport in England. English victories over New Zealand and South Africa in 1993 were perhaps the peak of England's performance under Carling.

Carling's career included the 1993 British Lions tour to New Zealand. He underachieved on that tour, a pattern attributed by coach Ian McGeechan and manager Geoff Cooke as at least partly due to his failing to secure the captaincy (this instead going to Gavin Hastings of Scotland) but also due in large part to the ascendency in the centre of both Guscott and Scott Gibbs of Wales. McGeechan and Cooke disclosed that Carling came close to voluntarily withdrawing from the squad; he did however recover his test place and played a notable role in the third test. McGeechan commented in his autobiography that Carling's failure to rise to the occasion as a Lion (in contrast to Guscott) may be seen by some as the difference between his legacy as a good player and a great player.

Also in 1993, he became the second captain after John Pullin to lead England to victories over Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, after beating the All Blacks 15–9. He had earlier led England to wins against Australia in November 1988, and South Africa in November 1992.

In the run-up to the 1995 World Cup, after England returned to form with their third Grand Slam in five years, Carling described the Rugby Football Union general committee as "57 old farts" which led to his sacking as captain. The incident had been provoked by administrator Dudley Wood's comments about England players' alleged desire to cheat by breaking the amateur ethic. He was however quickly reinstated due to public pressure and following a public apology was able to go to the 1995 Rugby World Cup. There England, after a slow start, found form, won all their group games and knocked out Australia in the quarter final 25–22, thanks to a last-minute drop-goal from Rob Andrew. They were well beaten by New Zealand in the semi-final, largely thanks to four tries from Jonah Lomu. Although Carling himself scored two tries towards the end of that game, and set up two more for Rory Underwood, England lost 45–29. The subsequent loss in the third place play-off, against France, was England's first loss to the French in seven years.

Following his resignation from the England captaincy he continued to be selected as an outside centre, usually with Guscott or Phil de Glanville. The latter succeeded him as captain.

Life after rugbyEdit

After his rugby career ended he became a TV pundit on rugby union. He has also worked as a motivational speaker[3] and in 2001 founded Will Carling Management Ltd, a corporate hospitality company[4][5] which is also involved in the rugby social networking website "Rucku".[6]

George Gregan, an Australian player, equalled Carling's then world record 59 matches as captain in the 2007 Rugby World Cup against Fiji and in the 2009 Tri Nations Series Springbok John Smit equalled and then beat his record in tests between New Zealand in Bloemfontein and Durban respectively. Also Brian O'Driscoll Ireland/Lions 2009 and 2010 and Richie McCaw have broken his record in 2011.

Personal lifeEdit

Carling is married to his second wife Lisa, the ex-wife of David Cooke. The couple have two children. Carling has an older son with former partner Ali Cockayne. Carling was previously married to the television presenter Julia Carling. Prior to their divorce, he was romantically linked by some members of the press with Diana, Princess of Wales, the then-wife of Prince Charles.[7][8][9] Carling has denied any such relationship.[10]

Carling, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was an infant and later died from the disease, is a patron of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer.[1] In August 2014, Carling was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[11]

Matches as captainEdit

No. Date Opposition Venue Score Status Notes
1 5 November   Australia Twickenham, London 28–19 Test Match
2 4 February   Scotland Twickenham, London 12–12 1989 Five Nations
3 18 February   Ireland Lansdowne Road, Dublin 16–3
4 4 March   France Twickenham, London 11–0 1 Try
5 18 March   Wales Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff 9–12
6 4 November   Fiji Twickenham, London 58–23 Test Match
7 20 January   Ireland Twickenham, London 23–0 1990 Five Nations
8 3 February   France Parc des Princes, Paris 26–7 1 Try
9 17 February   Wales Twickenham, London 34–6 1 Try
10 17 March   Scotland Murrayfield, Edinburgh 7–13
11 28 July   Argentina Vélez Sársfield, Buenos Aires 25–12 Argentina Series
12 4 August Vélez Sársfield, Buenos Aires 13–15
13 3 November   Argentina Twickenham, London 51–0 Test Match
14 19 January   Wales Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff 25–6 1991 Five Nations
15 16 February   Scotland Twickenham, London 21–12
16 2 March   Ireland Lansdowne Road, Dublin 16–7
17 16 March   France Twickenham, London 21–19
18 20 July   Fiji National Stadium, Suva 28–12 Test Match
19 27 July   Australia Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney 15–40 Test Match
20 3 October   New Zealand Twickenham, London 12–16 1991 Rugby World Cup
21 8 October   Italy Twickenham, London 36–6
22 11 October   United States Twickenham, London 37–9 1 Try
23 19 October   France Parc des Princes, Paris 19–10 1 Try
24 26 October   Scotland Murrayfield, Edinburgh 9–6
25 2 November   Australia Twickenham, London 6–12 1991 Rugby World Cup Final
26 18 January   Scotland Murrayfield, Edinburgh 25–7 1992 Five Nations
27 1 February   Ireland Twickenham, London 38–9
28 15 February   France Parc des Princes, Paris 31–13
29 7 March   Wales Twickenham, London 24–0 1 Try
30 17 October   Canada Wembley Stadium, London 26–13 Test Match
31 14 November   South Africa Twickenham, London 33–16 Test Match 1 Try
32 16 January   France Twickenham, London 16–15 1993 Five Nations
33 9 February   Wales Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff 9–10
34 6 March   Scotland Twickenham, London 26–12
35 20 March   Ireland Lansdowne Road, Dublin 3–17
36 27 November   New Zealand Twickenham, London 15–9 Test Match
37 5 February   Scotland Murrayfield, Edinburgh 15–14 1994 Five Nations
38 19 February   Ireland Twickenham, London 12–13
39 5 March   France Parc des Princes, Paris 18–14
40 19 March   Wales Twickenham, London 15–8
41 4 June   South Africa Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 32–15 South Africa Series
42 11 June Newlands, Cape Town 9–27
43 12 November   Romania Twickenham, London 54–3 Test Match 1 Try
44 10 December   Canada Twickenham, London 60–9 Test Match
45 21 January   Ireland Lansdowne Road, Dublin 20–8 1995 Five Nations 1 Try
46 4 February   France Twickenham, London 31–10
47 18 February   Wales Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff 23–9
48 18 March   Scotland Twickenham, London 24–12
49 27 May   Argentina Kings Park Stadium, Durban 24–18 1995 Rugby World Cup
50 4 June   Western Samoa Kings Park Stadium, Durban 44–22
51 11 June   Australia Newlands, Cape Town 25–22
52 18 June   New Zealand Newlands, Cape Town 29–45 2 Tries
53 22 June   France Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 9–19
54 18 November   South Africa Twickenham, London 14–24 Test Match
55 16 December   Western Samoa Twickenham, London 27–9 Test Match
56 20 January   France Parc des Princes, Paris 12–15 1996 Five Nations
57 3 February   Wales Twickenham, London 21–15
58 2 March   Scotland Murrayfield, Edinburgh 18–9
59 16 March   Ireland Twickenham, London 28–15

Honours as captainEdit

Rugby World Cup

Five Nations Championship

Calcutta Cup

  • Winners: 1989, 1991–96
  • Runners-up: 1990

Millennium Trophy

  • Winners: 1989–92, 1995–96
  • Runners-up: 1993–94


  1. ^ a b "Will Carling to gain youthful stepmother". The Daily Telegraph. 13 August 2008.
  2. ^ [1] Archived 25 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Now You're Talking" Archived 4 September 2012 at Archive.today. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  4. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  5. ^ Growing Business Online "Will Carling", 2005-06-20. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  6. ^ "Total Edge Network press release on Response Resource", 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2009-02-27
  7. ^ Warren.J "What happened to Diana's men"Daily Express, 2007-11-23. Retrieved 2008-12-02
  8. ^ CBS Worldwide "Diana's secret love" CBS News, 2004-04-21. Retrieved 2008-12-02
  9. ^ Time.com "Sweep it under the rugger" Time, 1996-03-25. Retrieved 2008-12-02
  10. ^ Ellam.D "Will Carling: my life as the cad" Sunday Mirror, 2004-09-26. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
  11. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland. His youngest son, Jack Carling is now attending a well known private school in England called wellington college. – full text and list of signatories | Politics". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.

External linksEdit

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Richard Harding
Rob Andrew
Rob Andrew
English National Rugby Union Captain
Nov 1988-Mar 1989
Nov 1989-May 1995
Jun 1995-Mar 1996
Succeeded by
Rob Andrew
Rob Andrew
Phil de Glanville