After graduating with a degree in Physical Education and Sports Science from Loughborough University in 1965, he played rugby union at centre for Broughton Park in Manchester and then Sale. Larder then transferred to rugby league, playing for Oldham and later Whitehaven.
He was Head of Physical Education at Saddleworth School between 197? and 1982.
In 1982, Larder was appointed as Coaching Director of the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA). Following Australia's 40-4 win in the first Ashes series test over Great Britain at Boothferry Park in Hull as part of the 1982 Kangaroo tour, Larder realised that the Australian's had left the British game behind and that if something didn't change then international matches between the two teams would no longer be a contest (the score had only been 10-4 at half time, but the Kangaroos has scored 30 unanswered points in the second half to leave British rugby league shell shocked). Deciding that action needed to be taken, Larder contacted Kangaroos coach Frank Stanton before the second test in Wigan and requested that he be allowed to spend a week with the team to observe the Kangaroos coaching and training methods. After getting approval from the Australian Rugby League, Stanton agreed and Larder spent a week with the team. From there he attended a coaches conference in February 1983 (among the coaches was former Great Britain lock forward and then Castleford coach Mal Reilly) where he presented his findings from his week with Stanton. The Rugby Football League were impressed with his initiative and Larder was appointed as Coaching Director of the RFL as well as the BARLA. Larder's work saw rugby league in Britain become more professional.
Larder coached both England rugby league team at the 1995 World Cup where they defeated Australia in the opening game at Wembley Stadium, but ultimately lost the World Cup Final to the Kangaroos, again at Wembley. Larder was later appointed coach of Great Britain and Ireland on their 1996 tour of New Zealand.
Larder then moved to rugby union, first coaching Sale, and worked with Leicester Tigers during their 4-year Guinness Premiership winning run and Heineken Cup victories in 2001 and 2002. Larder was the first specialist coach appointed under Clive Woodward in 1997, when he became England's defence coach. He held the position in England's 2003 World Cup-winning team, and on the 2001 and 2005 British and Irish Lions tours.
Larder was part of the England coaching staff until April 2006, when he was sacked along with Joe Lydon and Dave Alred following a review of the team's poor Six Nations performance. Larder later criticised coach Andy Robinson for letting player power run the team in his 25-month period in charge.
- Loughborough University - SSES - About Us Archived 26 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- Official Website of the British & Irish Lions Rugby Tour - management Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
- McGregor, Adrian (1991). Simply The Best: The 1990 Kangaroos (First ed.). Queensland: University of Queensland Press. pp. 46–59 The Fall and Rise of England. ISBN 0 7022 2370 0.
- BBC SPORT| Rugby Union| Welsh
- Sport news and updates - Telegraph Archived 24 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
- BBC SPORT| Rugby Union| English| Robinson 'chose wrong approach'