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May 5 down the years
Poulton is tragically killed in action
Ronald Poulton pictured while captaining Oxford University against Richmond. October 28, 1911
Ronnie Poulton scored five tries for Oxford University in the 1909 Varsity Match © Getty Images
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Ronnie Poulton-Palmer, the outstanding England three-quarter of the pre-Great War era, was killed in action in Belgium, aged 25. A centre of great ability and possessor of a beguiling swerve, Poulton won 17 caps for England and scored eight tries before he was struck by a sniper's bullet during fighting at Ploegsteert Wood. Poulton was the heir to the Huntley and Palmer biscuit business in Reading, and alongside his rugby achievements also studied at Oxford University, scoring five tries in the 1909 Varsity match against Cambridge. He also found time to turn out for both Harlequins and the Barbarians during his short career. Poulton (who added Palmer to his name in 1914) captained England during their 1913-14 Grand Slam season, scoring four tries against France at Stade Colombes. Despite his commitments in England, Poulton volunteered immediately for service with the Royal Berkshire regiment in 1914, arriving on the Western Front in 1915.

The RFU took the decision to strip Will Carling of the England captaincy just weeks ahead of the World Cup in South Africa because of his infamous '57 old farts' comment in the television documentary Fair Game. Carling, who led England to the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1991, 1992 and 1995, incensed RFU president Dennis Easby who insisted it was "inappropriate" for him continue. RFU secretary Dudley Wood said, "It is a very sad day for English rugby. It was strongly felt by the committee that his position as captain was untenable. His attack on the committee who had appointed him gave them no alternative but to dismiss him." However, Carling was reinstated just 48 hours later following a meeting with Easby and a public apology for his actions. The player had received widespread public support following his dismissal with the England squad reportedly refusing to play under another skipper. The whole scenario played out just three weeks before the 1995 Rugby World Cup where Carling, England's youngest ever captain at age 22, would go on to steer the side to the semi-finals.

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