Rugby Union: Carling kept off the ball

Stan Hey watches the former England captain drop anchor in the studio

NORMALLY he would have been smearing his face with Vaseline, head- butting the dressing-room door, and leading his team in a pre-match chorus of "Haul Him Down, You Zulu Warrior!" But for Will Carling, the former England rugby captain, yesterday marked his well-greased launch off the slipway and out into the media ocean as ITV Sports new presenter for the England v Australia match at Twickenham. But would he sink or swim?

Swapping the controlled violence of the rugby pitch for the neon-lit clamminess of a television studio is probably the biggest challenge of Carling's charmed life so far, for while the game itself seeks to make order out of a natural chaos, television coverage is all about control and the appearance of perfection. But leaving aside his obvious qualifications, Carling looked to have several other things going for him. He has been well used to the demanding glare of cameras, and the experience of having a producer shouting abuse and instructions into an earpiece would have been amply covered by his army training. Why, he even has a conveniently large dimple in his chin in which to nuzzle a microphone.

As he was groomed by the same agency that successfully guided the media careers of Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and David Gower, Carling was plainly in good hands, leaving the speculation to fall upon his precise role. Would he be a roving reporter in a duffle coat, seeking instant responses from the lads in the buff after the match? Would he be hosting a party in the North Car Park, complete with Quorn casserole and claret? Or would he be wearing a badged-blazer of the old fart variety, harrumphing at the youngsters who had succeeded him in the England team?

Disappointingly, Carling's role was revealed to be merely that of studiobound anchor, sitting in front of a Clive James- style wall of television screens which suggested that he and his two experts, Bob Dwyer and Damien Hopley, were in the front window of a Rumbelows store. Clad in a sober Armani number, he welcomed those viewers who hadn't already seen the match live on Sky and reeled off a handful of routine questions. "Had the new team had enough time to gel?" he wondered, bringing instant attention to his new close cropped hairstyle rather than the matter in hand.

Once the match began Carling was left in mute isolation when his comments would surely have been more illuminating than Steve "Keep It On The Island" Smith. And although the garrulous referee was miked up, there was no live link back to Carling for his thoughts on England's willing but disorganised first half.

The half-time interval was largely eaten up by adverts but just when you wanted Carling's insight about what the captain might be saying to his lads, he was obliged to ask the questions rather than answer them. "Bit of a patchy first half, obviously due to the conditions?" Carling ventured, backing away from any criticism of the new England set-up. And then with time for only two more questions Carling launched into a summary of the First Division football results, which was a bit like getting Michael Fish to comment on Iraq and the United Nations during a weather forecast.Rather like some of the other England debutants, Carling looked like the right man operating in the wrong position.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones