Reaction from around the world

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Stuart Barnes, former England fly-half: "It's a huge blow for the morale of the England camp. I don't think Australia or South Africa could have done a better job to undermine the England team. I don't believe there was any malice in Will's comments. He'll feel that they've been looking for an opportunity to strip him of power."

Dick Best, ex-England coach: "If you open your mouth, that's it with this RFU committee. I'm not surprised because it's a typical reaction by them to criticism. Will is the finest captain England have ever had. It's bound to affect the World Cup squad. But I hope he'll go out there and stick two fingers up at the committee by playing the rugby of his life."

Bob Dwyer, Australia's coach: "It wasn't all that smart a comment to make. The captain is the bridge between the administration and the players. Given his role in the team, he has to be seen to be supportive of the administration."

Jeff Probyn, ex-England prop: "Will left the committee with no choice. You can't insult the governing body and get away with it."

Gary Lineker, former England football captain: "Not long ago, the RFU secretary Dudley Wood made some outrageous racist remarks and he retained his job. It was far more offensive than anything Will Carling has done or said."

Francois Pienaar, South Africa's captain: "It's utterly ridiculous they sacked him. They didn't even reprimand him. He is one of the main reasons they [England] have been doing so well. Losing him now will certainly affect their World Cup campaign."