|Full name||William David Charles Carling|
|Date of birth||12 December 1965|
|Place of birth||Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England|
|Height||1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||90 kg (14 st 2 lb)|
|University||Hatfield College, Durham|
|Rugby union career|
|Professional / senior clubs|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
British and Irish Lions
The son of Lt Col Bill Carling and his first wife, Will attended Terra Nova School in Cheshire and then Sedbergh School in Winder House, on an army scholarship and later graduated with a degree in Psychology from Hatfield College, Durham. After university, Carling joined the army and was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Wales. He never rose above the rank of Second Lieutenant and his commission was terminated in 1988.
In 1988 he became the youngest ever England captain at the age of 22, and was the most successful, 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, amassing 6 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 went on to 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.
Carling's England team was often criticised as boring because they supposedly did not score many tries (although, in fact, in 1990 they broke the team record for tries in the Five Nations Championship, with 12 despite not actually winning the championship, and then shattered their own record with 15 in the 1992 Grand Slam) and often relied upon their forwards rather than take risks by giving the ball to the backs. Perhaps it was sensitivity about this - a reputation largely gained during the "functional but boring" Grand Slam of 1991 - that caused a famous reversal of tactics in the 1991 Rugby World Cup Final, when England suddenly played an expansive game that possibly contributed to their defeat by Australia. Carling offered the explanation that it was due to a previous defeat by Australia where England had been beaten up front.
Despite this, 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: although for the rest of the year and the next one, England reverted to stereotype, and under-achieved somewhat.
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 3rd test. Nonetheless, Ian 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 was the second England captain after John Pullin to win Australia, South Africa and New Zealand after beating the All Blacks 15–9.
In the run-up to the 1995 World Cup, after England returned to form with their third Grand Slam in five years, Carling famously 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: in which England, after a slow start against the minnows, quickly found form, won all their group games and gained their revenge over Australia by knocking them out in the quarter final 25-22, thanks to a last-minute drop-goal from Rob Andrew. They were however 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 the 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, but was largely treated as an irrelevance.
Life after rugby
After his rugby career ended he became a TV pundit on rugby union. He has also worked as a motivational speaker and in 2001 founded Will Carling Management Ltd, a corporate hospitality company which is also involved in the rugby social networking website "Rucku".
Wallaby George Gregan equalled his 59 matches as captain in the 2007 Rugby World Cup – Pool B 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.
Carling is married to his second wife Lisa, the ex-wife of David Cooke. The couple have two children, and the family live in Hampshire. Carling has an older son with former partner Ali Cockayne. Carling was formerly 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. Carling has denied any such relationship.
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. 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.
Matches as captain
Honours as captain
- Runner-up: 1991
- Champions: 1991 (Grand Slam and Triple Crown), 1992 (Grand Slam and Triple Crown), 1995 (Grand Slam and Triple Crown), 1996 (Triple Crown)
- Runners-up: 1989, 1990, 1994
- Winners: 1989, 1991–96
- Runners-up: 1990
- Winners: 1989–92, 1995–96
- Runners-up: 1993–94
- "Will Carling to gain youthful stepmother". Daily Telegraph. 13 August 2008.
- [dead link]
- "Now You're Talking". Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- "Encyclopædia Britannica". Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- Growing Business Online "Will Carling", 2005-06-20. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
- "Total Edge Network press release on Response Resource", 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2009-02-27
- Carling, Will (2009-05-13). "South Africa: Will Carling and family find a winning formula | Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Warren.J "What happened to Diana's men"Daily Express, 2007-11-23. Retrieved on 2008-12-02
- CBS Worldwide "Diana's secret love" CBS News, 2004-04-21. Retrieved on 2008-12-02
- Time.com "Sweep it under the rugger" Time Magazine, 1996-03-25. Retrieved 2008-12-02
- Ellam.D "Will Carling: my life as the cad"[dead link] Sunday Mirror, 2004-09-26. Retrieved 2008-12-02.
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
|English National Rugby Union Captain
Nov 1988-Mar 1989
Nov 1989-May 1995
Jun 1995-Mar 1996
Phil de Glanville