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Rory Underwood

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Name  Rory Underwood
Siblings  Tony Underwood
Notable relatives  Tony Underwood
Height  1.73 m
Role  Pilot

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Education  Barnard Castle School, Royal Air Force College Cranwell
Similar People  Tony Underwood, Rob Andrew, Will Carling, Jeremy Guscott, Brian Moore

Tribute to rory underwood rugby world cup special part 1 of 3

Rory Underwood MBE (born 19 June 1963) is an English former rugby union footballer who played wing for Leicester Tigers and the Royal Air Force. He represented England and the British and Irish Lions and is a former Royal Air Force pilot.


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Early life

Rory Underwood Playing Pundits Rory Underwood YouTube

Underwood was born in Middlesbrough, England, of Chinese-English parentage. His father was a Yorkshire engineer who worked in Malaysia where he met and married Underwood's Chinese-Malaysian mother.

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Underwood was educated at Barnard Castle School (with fellow rugby international Rob Andrew and infamous MI6 officer Richard Tomlinson), followed by initial officer training at RAF College Cranwell.

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His early life was spent in Malaysia. His family moved to Yorkshire in 1976, but his father was posted to Singapore and did not rejoin the family for another three years.

Royal Air Force

In the RAF, he played for the Strike Command and main RAF rugby team. He flew as Flying Officer Underwood with 360 Sqn, an electronic countermeasures training squadron, on Canberras at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire. He then flew the Hawk with 100 Sqn also at Wyton. He took a ground-instruction job in 1995 at RAF Cranwell becoming a flight lieutenant, whilst playing for Leicester. He became station flight safety officer, then joined 55 Sqn (navigator training, now referred to as a weapon systems officer) on the twin-engined Dominie (British Aerospace 125), and continued in the RAF until 1999, although he could have stayed until 2001.


Having first played as a youngster at Middlesbrough Rugby Club (with Rob Andrew and Bernie Coyne) he went on to become one of the greatest wings in rugby union. Underwood is the leading try scorer for England in international matches. He first played for England in February 1984 against Ireland at Twickenham. He won 85 England and 6 Lions caps between 1984 and 1996 (then an English record, later surpassed by Jason Leonard – it remained the highest total for an English back, though that has since been overtaken by Jonny Wilkinson), scoring a record 49 tries for England, and 1 for the British Lions, making him one of the leading try scorers of all time. He played for England in the Rugby World Cups of 1987, 1991 and 1995.

In 1992 he switched from the right to the left wing to accommodate his younger brother, Tony, in the team. They were the first brothers to represent England at the same time since 1937. He has been described as one of the greatest wingers to ever play the game.

Recent career

Underwood has worked as a management consultant. When leaving the RAF he planned on setting up a company called Teamwork with his friend John Peters. He planned on acquiring a Commercial Pilot Licence.

He set up UPH, a management and teamwork training company, with John Peters and Martyn Helliwell on 20 May 1999. Two years later, he appeared on Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.

Like John Peters, he is also a motivational speaker. He is on the board of Leicester FC. His new company is called Wingman Ltd, formed with Dave Moss.

Personal life

His wife was an air traffic controller in the RAF. He has two daughters. He has two younger brothers Gary and Tony and also has a sister Wendy. His brother Tony Underwood became a commercial pilot after retiring and also played rugby for England and has two daughters.

His long-lasting relationship with the RAF was put under strain when his wife was unfairly dismissed from the RAF for being pregnant, for which she received £13,000 in a compensation claim in 1995.

He lives in a small village near Grantham in Lincolnshire, having lived in the area for many years whilst at Cranwell. He has often been invited to be a local dignitary, or to play for local charity sports matches. He is President of the Grantham National Malaya and Borneo Veterans Association.


  • Flying Wing - An Autobiography by Rory Underwood, 1992, ISBN 0-09-175074-1
  • References

    Rory Underwood Wikipedia