Who was the youngest England rugby union captain?

England Rugby have had some brilliant and successful leaders in the history of the team. Being captain of England is usually something that comes later in a player’s career, but there are a few players who did it early in their careers. 

Who was the youngest England rugby captain? Will Carling is the youngest England Rugby Union captain, he captained the team at age 22. Carlings’ first cap as England captain came in 1988, having only made his debut that same year. He would captain England 59 times in his career.

Will Carling is one of the greatest England captains in the history of Rugby. Older fans of the game will remember him as the man who captained England to the 1991 Rugby World Cup Final where they lost to Australia. Carling was also England’s captain when they won the Five Nations Championship in 1991,1992,1995 and 1996, with three of those titles being a Grand Slam. 

What is most surprising about Carlings’ career is that he was put into a leadership role incredibly quickly. After the 1987 Rugby World Cup, England were going through a lot of change and looking to bring young players into an ageing team. 

Carling was one of those players looked at for the 1988 Five Nations campaign, but it looked unlikely that Carling would be involved due to management going with the more experienced pair of Simon Halliday and John Buckton. Thankfully for Carling, the pair both had to pull out of the tournament with pulled hamstrings and Carling was pushed into the team. 

He became a regular starter with England after the Five Nations despite England finishing third. To pursue this England career Carling had to buy himself out of the army as he was supposed to be joining the army in the summer of 1988. Carling paid £8,000 to buy himself out of the army and took up a job with Mobil Oil to pay for this as rugby was still amateur at the time. 

To start the 1988 Autumn internationals Carling was made captain of the team for a test match against Australia and this became permanent from 1989 Five Nations Championship going forward. Carling would captain England a month before turning 23 and this still makes him the youngest England rugby union captain. 

Who was the second youngest England rugby union captain? 

Current England flanker Tom Curry has come closest to beating Will Carlings’ record for the youngest England Rugby captain of all time. At the start of the 2022 Six Nations campaign, Curry was named as England captain for the game against Scotland in Murrayfield. This was because the first two choices for captain had been ruled out through injury. 

At the time that Curry was captain of England he was 23 years old and eight months old which makes him the second youngest England captain behind Carling. Curry’s time as captain of his country did not go as well as Carlings’. Curry lost his opening game as captain and he was not installed as permanent captain afterwards as Farrell returned to being captain when he came back from injury. 

Who is the youngest player to play for England rugby? 

The youngest player to play for England is Johnny Wilkinson. Having grown up in Farnham it was surprising when Wilkinson came through the ranks of Newcastle School of Rugby. But Wilkinson showed a huge amount of talent and potential from a very early age. So much so that he was in the England team at 18. 

Wilkinson made his full England debut at the age of 18 years and 304 days when he came off the bench to replace Mike Catt on the wing. It was an incredible achievement for Wilkinson and it was the start of a brilliant career for the fly-half who would go on to win

England a World Cup title with his last-minute drop goal in the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final. 

Over the last few years, we have seen a few players get close to his record. Tom Curry is the man to have come closest and is the youngest forward to ever play for England. Curry made his England debut at the age of 18 years and 360 days when he started against Argentina in June 2017 when England toured Argentina. 

Who is the youngest forward to play for England Rugby? 

While Johnny Wilkinson is the youngest player to play rugby for England, he was not a forward. It is current England and Sale flanker Tom Curry who is the youngest forward to play for England, breaking the record on England’s tour of Argentina in 2017. 

Curry played for the England U20 team in the 2016/17 season and was part of the team that won the 2017 Six Nations Under 20 Championship. This combined with brilliant performances for Sale Sharks meant Curry was called up to tour Argentina with England in summer 2017. 

The tour of Argentina was seen as a great opportunity to rotate players as Argentina were not the same quality as previous tour opponents like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Because of this England head coach, Eddie Jones decided to rotate the side and brought in a lot of youngsters including Tom Curry. 

Curry was brought on the tour alongside his twin brother Ben Curry and both could have broken the record for the youngest forward to play for England as Ben plays as a flanker, the same position as Tom. 

But for the first test, Eddie Jones went with Tom Curry from the start, with the youngster playing 70 minutes as England won a thriller 38-34 thanks to a 78th-minute Denny Solomona try. What is incredible about this achievement is that Curry made his England debut five days before his 19th birthday in a very difficult position. 

Curry became the youngest player to ever start on the flank for England and there is only one player to have made his England debut at a younger age than Curry. That would be England legend and world cup winner Johnny Wilkinson who was a couple of months younger than Curry when he made his England debut. 

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