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.

When we started delivering RugbyWorks at Francis Barber, Tooting, Teddy instantly stood out. From the offset, he claimed he did not want to be part of Dallaglio RugbyWorks and didn’t want to register himself onto the programme.

 Many teachers would treat this behaviour from Teddy in a negative way but as RugbyWorks coaches, we understand that dealing with change and putting trust in unfamiliar adults can be very hard for our young people. We came to a compromise; he didn’t have to register, but he agreed to try the session once. During this first session, Teddy engaged well at times and had a good physical ability. However, his attitude was negative and he was disruptive within the group. At times, he would go out of his way to hijack parts of the session by disrupting others during discussions and breaking the rules on purpose during games. Following this, we decided to take some time and speak to Teddy at the end of the session. We found he did not actually realise how good he was in the physical elements of the session. His confidence was clearly low and we could sense that this lay beneath his disruptive behaviour. Teddy was similar to many young people on the programme whose outward behaviour might seem confident, but in reality it is a defence mechanism for a real lack of confidence.

From this conversation, we began to form a much better relationship with Teddy. Over time, he began to trust me more. We slowly began to understand his ambitions and found out his desire to work in the fashion industry. Luckily, we had an employability day on the horizon with Burberry. We emphasised how amazing this opportunity would be for him but stated that his behaviour within sessions had to improve for him to be considered a place on the next trip. From this point, Teddy’s maturity levels changed significantly. His communication skills and body language also showed noticeable improvement.

When the employability day at Burberry came around, Teddy had earnt his place and was selected for the trip. On the day, Teddy excelled himself and really stood out from the crowd. He was constantly engaged in, inquisitive and displayed some remarkable artistic talent. In one task, he and his team had to design an item of clothing that could be sold by Burberry. Several members of the Burberry design team were surprised by the level of detail and professionalism in Teddy’s work and with this feedback, he won an award.

Buoyed by this success, Teddy went from strength to strength with us. One of his proudest moments was being nominated as ‘Most Improved Young Person’ at our annual Dallaglio RugbyWorks awards in July. Considering where he had started way back in September and the incredible journey Teddy had been on, he was chosen by the judging panel as the winner for this prestigious award. At the ceremony, he told me that ‘he was thankful of the work Dallaglio RugbyWorks have done for him and he was ready to push on with his efforts and “make something of his life’’.

Teddy left Francis Barber, Tooting in June and hasn’t forgotten those words. While awaiting his GCSE results, Teddy has completed a work experience placement with our partner, Pentland Brands. For a week, he had the opportunity to work with the fashion brand Red or Dead. He was tasked with creating a portfolio of different logo and clothing designs that could be targeted at a young audience.

At the end of his placement, Teddy presented the designs he had created with confidence, maturity and pride. His clear innovation and ability to ‘think outside of the box’ really shone through in his work.

Following on from this incredible experience, Teddy still faced a nervous wait for his GCSE results. He had applied to Southfields College to study a BTEC level 2 in Textiles, Design Technology & Art, following the passion we had uncovered many months back. To obtain a place at this college, he neededa grade of C or above in Maths, English & Art. We are delighted to report that through his consistent determination to succeed and better himself, he has achieved these grades.

This is only the beginning for Teddy and with the right guidance and mentorship from the Dallaglio RugbyWorks coaches, we are certain that he will reach his aspirations of working in the fashion industry. Going forward, we will continue to mentor him as he makes his way to college, supporting him in the next step on his journey. Given the massive strides he has made over the past year, we are confident that he can progress in whichever way he wishes, and we will be there with him every step of the way.


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