Carps: The Rugby World Cup's Father
The Biography of John Kendall-Carpenter
- Steve Tomlin
- Foreword by Sir Bill Beaumont
15th July 2023
John Kendall-Carpenter was a truly extraordinary man. He captained the England rugby team in the early 1950s, when he was widely regarded as one of the cleverest and most tactically astute players in the world. At the same time he launched out on a career in education which saw him not only hold the headmastership of three well-known public schools but also play a prominent role in the Headmasters’ Conference in its negotiations with the Labour Government in the 1970s to ensure the continued independence of that sector.
In addition, the first Rugby World Cup simply would never have happened without him. President of the Rugby Union in 1980, he was then elected as England’s representative on the International Rugby Board where his role was to defend the amateur code which was coming under increasing pressure from professionalism. His conversion to the cause of international rugby and the commercial potential of the Word Cup, with his subsequent passion and energy, was instrumental in getting the first World Cup in 1987 off the ground and also paved the way towards the professional game. He then threw himself into the planning of the next World Cup but sadly died just a year before it started in 1991.
John Kendall-Carpenter was remarkable man with many friends – and a few enemies! – not only in sport, but in education, the theatre, among politicians and writers. He is still a legend in Cornwall – his adopted home. This biography will appeal to every dedicated rugby supporter as well as those interested in sport in general and how rugby emerged from the fields of English public schools to the huge commercial sporting event it is today.