Lawrence Dallaglio

More than a decade since Lawrence Dallaglio last ran out for his country, the legacy of England’s World Cup-winning number eight continues to endure both on and off the pitch.

Dallaglio’s rugby career singled him out as an all-time great of British sport, with his achievements over a 12-year career bearing comparison with anyone to have played the game.

Six Nations triumphs, Grand Slams, towering performances for the British & Irish Lions, not to mention his exploits in club rugby for Wasps, have ensured the former England captain a very special place in the heart of English rugby.

But his achievements extend far beyond the confines of the rugby fields he graced with such distinction.

Dallaglio has raised millions of pounds for charity and worked tirelessly to help others through his own charity, Dallaglio RugbyWorks, which he founded in 2009.

The charity aims to create a “long-term skills development programme based on the values of rugby”.

Dallaglio and his team have transformed the lives of thousands of young people, who might otherwise have found themselves abandoned without hope following their exclusion from mainstream education.

His vision is an extremely ambitious one – but it’s entirely in keeping with the kind of fighting spirit he showed every time he stepped over the white line for club or country.

Now 46, London-born Dallaglio’s crowning glory came in 2003 when he was a driving force behind England’s historic World Cup win over Australia.

England beat the Aussies 20-17 at Sydney’s Stadium Australia, thanks to the magic boot of Jonny Wilkinson, the fighting spirit of captain Martin Johnson and the ceaseless energy of Dallaglio – the only member of the squad to play every minute of every game.

For the latter pair, it was the culmination of two remarkable careers that saw both become dominant figures in English rugby for the best part of a decade.

Another World Cup final would follow four years later in France, with Dallaglio coming off the bench with 15 minutes remaining as England attempted to claw back a deficit against South Africa.

That proved a task too far, even for him, as Brian Ashton’s side unluckily and controversially lost the match in Paris 15-6.

Dallaglio’s club career ended in fairytale fashion in May 2008. In his final game, Wasps beat arch-rivals Leicester 26-16 at Twickenham – a victory that sealed the Guinness Premiership title.

For Dallaglio, though, new challenges lay ahead, as he threw himself into charity work and fundraising. The Dallaglio Cycle Slam has become one of the biggest biennial events in the British charity calendar. In 2012 Dallaglio teamed up with Andrew Flintoff for an Olympic-themed ride from Athens to London – an event which raised £2million.

He remains part of the sporting fabric of this country, an instantly recognisable figure, and a larger-than-life inspiration to many – particularly those who have benefited from his extraordinary RugbyWorks efforts.

Dallaglio’s 2018 aim was to have his charity work with as many as 25% of excluded 14 to 16-year-olds.

“Our results are significant, a young person on our programme is three times more likely to pass a maths and English Level 2, and twice as likely to still be in education, employment or training 12 months after leaving school,” he says.

For those young people, that is a difference that can utterly transform their life chances.

For this giant of sport it is, though, simply the latest chapter in a lifetime of awe-inspiring achievement.

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