Mystery shrouds Carling's Hong Kong benefit match claims

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 April, 1998, 12:00am

Former England captain Will Carling has said Hong Kong has expressed interest in hosting his benefit match next season.

But local rugby sources, including the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU), say they know nothing about the match.

The English Rugby Football Union (RFU), once dubbed 'old farts' by then England captain Carling, has snubbed the player's request to host a benefit match at Twickenham.

Carling said yesterday the RFU had rejected the request to hold an international friendly match at English rugby's headquarters between a World XV and Fiji.

Carling, England captain for nine years, said: 'I'm not surprised by the decision. I think it's fairly typical of one or two characters who are involved.

'You would think they would like to thank certain people, but maybe they think I ran out at Twickenham too often.' Carling, who captained England to three Grand Slams, said the game might now be played outside Britain.

He said that Hong Kong had expressed an interest in staging the world-class match.

Last night the HKRFU denied any knowledge of the game. 'This is news to me. I know nothing about it,' said Allan Payne, HKRFU executive director.

A spokesman for Harlequins, Carling's old club, also had no knowledge as to whether the game would be played in Hong Kong.

'As far as we are aware, it will be played in London and at our ground,' said the spokesman.

Carling's agents were also unable to shed any light. 'Everything is pure speculation at the moment,' his agents said.

The decision to turn down Carling's request was made by the RFU's management committee, whose chairman is Cliff Brittle.

The RFU is split at the moment between a Brittle-led faction, which thinks clubs have become too powerful, and the rest of the union.

Carling was sacked as England captain in 1995 after calling English rugby union officials '57 old farts' in a television programme. He was reinstated after an apology and captained the side for another season.

Western Australia arrived for a three-game tour of Hong Kong last night.