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Standing 1.98m tall and weighing in at 117kg, lock Geoff Parling is a huge man who has had a huge impact on British rugby. The 32 year-old from Stockton-on-tees has won 29 England caps as well as earning three British and Irish Lions caps on the 2013 tour to Australia, during which he played in all three tests.

The early years

Born in 1983, as a youngster Geoff was eager to try all sports and by the age of 11 was a promising county level goalkeeper in the soccer-dominated northeast. However, when he arrived at soccer-oriented Ian Ramsey School, he and a few other boys successfully urged that the school form a rugby team. The new team won its first game against another local school (that was coached by Geoff’s father) with Geoff scoring the only try of the match.

Geoff then joined Stockton RFC and developed his game under Nick Moore, the man he has described as being the biggest influence in terms of getting him to enjoy rugby. In those days at Stockton there were players of all abilities and Moore’s view was that rugby should be fun and his ethos was that if a boy turned up with his boots on then he would get some game time. It was the group identity and camaraderie that this engendered that steered Geoff towards rugby when at age about 14 he had to choose between rugby and soccer, because playing both games on weekends, as he did, was becoming too hectic.

Later development

Going on to the Newcastle Falcons Academy, Geoff honed his rugby skills, becoming good enough to be selected for England age group sides at Under 16, Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 levels. He went on to play for Newcastle Falcons becoming a first team regular in the 2005-06 season. But it was after moving to Leicester Tigers in 2009 that Geoff began to push for international honours and in 2010 he played twice for the England Saxons. Two years later he won the first of his full England caps and, in 2013, toured Australia with the Lions.

Now with Exeter Chiefs, we are proud to count Geoff as a Canterbury brand ambassador.