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.

In the 10th year of our programme it was almost poetic that we saw 10 schools battle it out to be crowned Dallaglio RugbyWorks London Spring Tournament champions on a gloriously sunny day at Kings House Sports Ground in Barnes.

This year’s Spring tournament was held in memory of Wasps Legend, Bob Collier. We were delighted and honoured to welcome Bob’s family to join us at the tournament and present the special Bob Collier award to the overall player of the day. Bob’s wife Sally said, “The work Dallaglio RugbyWorks do to help and encourage these boys and girls overcome difficulties is truly exceptional. Reading about what you do is one thing but actually seeing the enthusiasm and team spirit amongst those young people is just great”.

As soon as the teams pulled on their brightly coloured team shirts the atmosphere was full of excitement and eagerness to get started. From the first whistle, the teams demonstrated speed, flair and a desire to win that was infectious to all those watching on.

London Lead Coach, Luka Syplywczak commented, “The Dallaglio RugbyWorks touch tournaments represent the most enjoyable day of the academic year. It’s a chance for the young people we work with to show what they have learnt throughout the year, but more importantly, an opportunity to engage with their peers from other schools in a competitive environment.”

The day kicked off when Francis Barber Tooting locked horns with reigning East London champions, Phil Edwards. Francis Barber entered the games as underdogs, but a strong display saw Phil Edwards without a score first time in the 2018-19 season. Rashaan Dathorne broke free and scored in the dying moments securing Francis Barber with a hard-fought 7-0 victory. Rashaan’s performance throughout the day saw him rewarded with the well-deserved title of ‘player of the day.’ Elm Court also made a name for themselves as the only school to beat leaders Pavilion Study Centre in the 2018-19 season.

The core values of team work and respect were truly on display throughout the day, none more so than when Jus’T’Learn faced Wandle Valley. Not only was it a well-played game, but there was no shortage of good sportsmanship and laughter as close friends Devonte Ellis-Swaby (Jus’T’Learn) and Javaughan Brown (Wandle Valley) playfully attempted to outdo one another on the pitch. At the close of the game, both sides shook hands and embraced one another, showcasing the true victory of the tournament.

London coach, Jack Bell commented; “The Dallaglio RugbyWorks tournaments are something special. Young people from a whole variety of backgrounds come together to participate in a fun and competitive day. It’s so heartening to see so many smiles on the faces of the young people involved. This is why we do what we do.”

The semi-finals were fiercely contested with Pavilion Study Centre facing Phil Edwards and Jus’T’Learn playing Francis Barber. Ultimately, Pavilion Study Centre and Francis Barber claimed victory to face each other in the final. The final was every bit as exciting as the stage rounds with terrific spirit and game play on display from both teams. Both sides had opportunities to score but their defence stood strong and no-one was able to breach the opposing try line. With six minutes gone and Pavilion Study Centre deep in their own half, a mesmerising run by Eugene Odame saw him break through the Francis Barber Tooting defence only to drop the ball over the line and have the try disallowed. In a nail-biting finale, the game went to extra time with only the golden point to decide the overall victors. Finally, Pavilion Study Centre broke the Francis Barber Tooting defence to score the only points conceded by Francis Barber Tooting all day.

Whilst Pavilion Study Centre emerged as deserved champions, every school deserves a special mention for helping create a wonderful atmosphere and deliver one of the best RugbyWorks days of the year. Notable mentions also go to Rashaan Dathorne (Francis Barber Tooting), who won Player of the Day, Jus’T’Learn school for winning Team of the Day and Simeon Johnson (Phil Edwards) who was the deserving winner of the Bob Collier Award for Commitment and Reliability. Simeon conducted himself impeccably during the tournament and was recognised by various onlookers for encapsulating the values that RugbyWorks promote amongst the young people on the programme. 

“Rugby is a huge part of our heritage as a charity, with Wasps being at the centre of it. To be able to honour Bob Collier and his family at our London Tournament was wonderful. The tournaments are so important to our young people, and the donation allowed us to invite over a hundred young people from around London compete and demonstrate all the values of rugby. I hope the family saw what a great legacy this was for Bob”. Rachel Roxburgh, CEO Dallaglio RugbyWorks.

We were also treated to the presence of many of our wonderful supporters, including staff members from Reynolds, L&D, Deloitte and Impetus. Without the volunteers taking scores, trouble-shooting, refereeing and liaising with schools the tournament would most definitely not be as much of a success. Attending the tournament is the perfect opportunity for us to show first-hand the successes of the programme to the people that do so much towards making it possible. Thank you for your support on the day and across our entire programme.

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