The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Behind Every Tough Guy Is A Broken Boy …
September 16, 2020, 7:30 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Culture, Education, Fatherhood, Parents

I recently read an interview with ex-England Rugby Captain, Will Carling.

It’s a fascinating interview because in some ways, Will was David Beckham before even David Beckham.





A glamorous wife.

A media ‘celebrity’.

But in addition to this, he also faced incredibly scrutiny, destructive rumours and the wrath of the media for acts – as we learn in the interview – that were simply not true.

For example he was labelled as money obsessed as he would do public speaking … but what was not discussed was that it was his only source of income as he gave up his well-paid job at Mobil so he could concentrate on his [amateur] rugby fulltime.

But the most telling part of the interview – and the readers comments underneath it – is how he was sent away to boarding school at the age of 6.


Separated from his parents to live in a dormitory, surrounded by other boys – many much older than him – all on his own.

The most heartbreaking part of the interview is this:

“Every night during those first weeks I would go into a ball at the bottom of the bed. You didn’t want anyone to hear you crying. It was unbelievably lonely.”

Otis is 5.

The thought of choosing to send him away … to see him maybe once a year … is beyond my comprehension.

It is, in my opinion, an act of utter cruelty.

The psychological damage to the child must be incredible … which may go some way to explaining why people like Boris Johnson and mob have this compulsion to be popular and can lie without hesitation.

Maybe it’s less they’re just out and out bad … and more the methods they learnt to survive from being sent to live in a boarding school at an age where no kid should be separated from their family, friends or home.

The fact there are places of ‘education’ that are OK with letting kids from the age of 6 not see their parents for months on end makes me so angry and reinforces my view that so much private education is designed to create complicity rather than individuality.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who Will Carling is.

Or if you don’t have kids.

Or if you hate rugby.

It’s a fascinating article about success, family, media, team mates and integrity and I am sure you will come out of it realising that the toughest men are hiding the most brutal pasts.

You can read it here.

28 Comments so far
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I don’t understand anything about rugby and had never heard of Will Carling, but this article is really good. Thank you Rob, it should be sent to all adults when they become parents.

Comment by Pete

I remember Will’s rise.
I remember him being seen as a golden boy … the sort of status well before the Beckham’s of this world.
I remember reading his book on leadership – based on being the youngest England rugby captain in history.
I remember the scandals.
I remember how the press revelled in his fall.
Society is so quick to build up and then destroy people … always forgetting that behind the spotlight lies a life filled with all manner of trials and tribulations, because regardless of the level of fame – or maybe because of it – they are just like us: flawed, insecure, fighting for acceptance with the people we know we’re not.

Comment by Rob

An incredible article. The comments are also enlightening.

Comment by George

The comments are amazing. Did you see the one Will Carling responded to as well … specifically about whether his kids go to boarding school?

Comment by Rob

This made me cry. The poor little boy.

Comment by Mary Bryant

I know Mary. Me too …

Comment by Rob

Who would send their 5 year old kid away when they don’t have to? His parents were sick. I’m glad he has worked out what contributed to his fails, I bet many just blame themselves.

Comment by Bazza

Yep. It’s utter fucking cruelty.

Where children are seen as an accessory rather than family. And it’s still going on. But do the government step in and talk about that as bad parenting? Of course not, because the people who do it have money – which apparently is the sign of a good parent, regardless how you treat your kids.

Comment by Rob

What is the point having a child if you don’t want to spend any time with them?

Comment by Pete

I get it if your kid was like Billy.

Comment by DH

That was mean. Sorry Billy.

Comment by DH

true. but fucking mean.

Comment by andy@cynic

A world where education and health could not be bought would be a better world.

Comment by John

you commie bastard. good work doddsy. i fucking agree.

Comment by andy@cynic

Could not agree more.

The Finnish education system is particularly worthy of looking at. They were one of the worst systems in the World under communist rule and then, when they had the chance to change it, they made some major decisions.

1. They would teach based on life needs not just academic grades.

2. All teachers were evenly spread across all schools.

3. They ensured there was plenty of family time not just homework.

In a matter of years, they went from being one of the worst performing nations in education to one of the best. Beating the systematic, regimented ad repetitive approach adopted by many Asian education schools.

All free. All for everyone.

What I love about this is that the government realised an educated mass population was a population who could create, evolve and attract talent, business and ideas. They saw it as an investment in the nation rather than a drain.

Which is what education is … or should be.

Comment by Rob

when you live in finland, education or selling drugs is the only thing youve got to get out of the fucking place.

Comment by andy@cynic

Someone – a planner – on Linkedin does not seem to share my view on boarding schools. Specifically boarding schools that accept 5 year olds as stay-away-from-home students.

I received this.

lt’s always interesting to see/hear the views on private school from those who never experienced it. So frequently wide of the mark.

Boarding school is “utter cruelty”?
“Learnt to survive”?
“Not see their parents for months”
“Psychological damage”

All sweeping generalisations of boarding school life (and it’s impacts) and wholly incorrect, at least of my experience going from the age of 7.

There are “toffs” amongst us, Rob. In your industry.
I’d suggest you understand them better before passing such negative commentary.

Comment by Rob

While they are obviously entitled to their view and their experience was different to Will Carling, the tone towards what I had written seemed pretty pissy – which, as we all know, is guaranteed to make me pissy in return – so I have responded with this:

But I’m referencing the experience of someone who did go through it. Are you saying he is wrong? Are you saying his views don’t matter? Are you saying being sent from your parents aged 5 is OK?

I appreciate not all boarding schools are like that. But any place that would be willing to accept a child from the age of 5 and keep them away from their parents is horrible – as are the parents who think this is OK – and will absolutely cause psychological damage in the child.

However I feel your issue is not about Will Carling’s experience,. but my views on boarding school. Your comment says you went to one from a young age and feel I am challenging you because of it. I’m not.

Well I’m glad your experience was positive, but to think I am ‘scaremongering’ because I didn’t go to one is frankly ridiculous – especially when it is based on an article of an individual who did and who has been psychologically scarred because of it.

To paraphrase you … as a strategy director, I’d suggest you remember your experience doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s experience before passing such condescending commentary.

Comment by Rob

I saw his response. Wonder if he realises he’s proving your point?

Comment by DH

Gets better and better.

Comment by Rob

the only reason someone would say it was good their parents sent them to boarding school aged 7 is because they dont want to deal with the fact their parents were pricks for doing it.

the only reason any parent would do it outside of being stuck in a fucking warzone is because it does something for the parents. doesnt matter what the reason, its a fucked reason.

Comment by andydy@cynic

The parental etiquette 2020 course is now open.

Comment by Bazza

you fucking know it.

Comment by andy@cynic

I join you in parental agreement Andrew.

Comment by Mary Bryant

you know it makes fucking sense.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your father would be very proud Robert. I do wish you would allow comments. I am sure they would stay on subject matter and be nothing but kind and considerate.

Comment by Lee Hill

Completely agree Lee. I’ve always wondered about the logic behind it. So, I was very interested to see in that old post that he writes about considering turning comments off so that people didn’t feel obliged to respond. I also agree with your response to that.

Comment by John

Caroling is a man with lot of courage and honesty and caring. We can use a bit more Carling. Great writing.

Comment by The Wild Coach

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