Dallaglio RugbyWorks is an intensive, long-term skills development programme based on rugby, through which we aim to get teenagers outside of mainstream education into sustained education, employment or training.
Rugby World Cup Legacy
In the Evening Standard on the eve of the 2015 RugbyWorld Cup Lawrence Dallaglio called on politicians and sports chiefs to throw “a lifeline” to thousands of disadvantaged young Londoners by better harnessing rugby’s power to change lives.
The former England captain, 43, last year launched a pioneering programme supporting hundreds of troubled teenagers, and says the Rugby World Cup is London’s and the country’s chance to create an “incredible legacy”.
Dallaglio, who won the 2003 trophy, said he remembered how the sport changed his life after losing his sister Francesca, 19, in the 1989 Marchioness disaster, when two boats collided in the Thames, drowning 51 people.
“I genuinely believe sport can be a lifeline for people. I think it helps a lot of young people in the way it helped me,” he said. “I could easily have gone too far down the wrong road. But rugby became the focus in my life and it was a therapy that came at a crucial time.
“By hosting the World Cup we’ve got the opportunity to create an incredible legacy that for me should be about outcomes, not outputs. We need governing bodies in this country and politicians to realise that’s what’s important.
“When people mention the word legacy, it should be outcomes — what happens after it — and I think that gets lost sometimes.”
Dallaglio, who won 85 England caps, set up the Dallaglio Foundation a year after retiring from international rugby in 2008. Last year it launched its flagship two-year programme, RugbyWorks, which targets teenagers aged between 14 and 16, and works in 16 Pupil Referral Units in 12 London boroughs, as well as units in Newcastle, Bristol and Wales.
Pupil Referral Units are mostly made up of children who have been excluded from mainstream schools, and are often deprived or vulnerable. Under the foundation’s programme, rugby coaches, who also act as mentors and support workers, visit them.
Field trips are organised and work experience is arranged for teenagers at companies including Google, Shell and the Metropolitan police. Of the 250 teenagers on the programme, about 160 are from the capital. Dallaglio, from Shepherd’s Bush, told how one young Londoner helped by the foundation had used drugs while at school and been abusive to staff. However, after attending the programme, he has gone on to do paid work experience with a marketing agency and applied for an apprenticeship with Halfords.
Another youth had fled Sierra Leone after seeing his father murdered. His personal support plan allowed him to do work experience at Google and the Met, and he is now starting college as part of a Barnet FC scholarship.
Dallaglio said: “I’m not expecting all these guys to be lining up playing rugby for England in the next World Cup. Rugby’s the hook and the therapy. This is about using the game and its values to reach people and develop the sort of skills you need to move on in life.”
He added: “The key thing is that people stop focusing on just numbers. Projects that are set up to engage non-traditional audiences of vulnerable and disengaged young people have to focus on objectives and impact and not just ticking boxes. This can be challenging, as many funding streams are only available when a certain number of people are worked with. We have to avoid these funds, as accepting them would take us away from our core mission.”
Speaking about England hosting the competition, he said: “It’s very exciting. It’s the first one England has hosted on its own and it’s an opportunity for England and London to really open its arms and embrace the world.”
Interview with David Churchill