Carling, Will

Will Carling captained the England rugby team from 1988 to 1996. He became the most recognised face of English rugby and raised the profile of the sport through the success of the England team under his captaincy.

Like most rugby players Carling's sporting career started at school. Here his natural talent for rugby was recognised and he was selected to play for the England Schools team. After leaving school he attended Durham University where he studied Psychology. He then joined the Army and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery.

Whilst at Durham in 1987, Carling played for the London club, Harlequins, commuting between the two cities three times a week in order to attend training sessions. It was during this time that he received his first cap for England against France. This match was the start of a successful international career. At the age of just 22 he was appointed captain of England, becoming the youngest player ever to captain his country.

As captain of England, Carling led his team to three Grand Slams (1991, 1992 and 1995) and reached the Final of the 1991 Rugby World Cup, losing to Australia at Twickenham by 12 points to 6. In the same year he was awarded an OBE.

In 1995 Carling caused controversy when he described the Rugby Football Union (RFU) Committee as "57 old farts" on a Channel 4 television programme. His objection was aimed at the RFU's reluctance to see the amateur game of rugby turn professional. His outburst resulted in him being sacked from the England team. However, as one of rugby's most popular figures, public pressure saw he was reinstated - but only after making a public apology.

Carling found himself the subject of yet more media interest when he was romantically linked to Diana, Princess of Wales. Arguably rugby's first celebrity, Carling used his high media profile and successful rugby career to his advantage, when upon retirement from the game he became a TV pundit and motivational speaker.

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