Dallaglio aims to help excluded youngsters with charity work

British & Irish Lions legend Lawrence Dallaglio hopes that his fundraising can make a difference to young people affected by exclusion. [more]

Dallaglio aims to help excluded youngsters with charity work

British & Irish Lions legend Lawrence Dallaglio hopes that his fundraising can make a difference to young people affected by exclusion.

Completing his seventh Cycle Slam for Dallaglio RugbyWorks, the former England captain took on a gruelling 1,000km course with 100 other cyclists.

Established in 2010, Dallaglio RugbyWorks supports young people between the age of 12 and 18 experiencing exclusion from school.

The Cycle Slam has been one of the charity’s flagship events, with riders having cycled well over 500,000km over the past 14 years and raising over £4 million.

Using rugby as a tool to develop life skills, increase aspirations, improve physical and mental wellbeing, it is a cause extremely close to Dallaglio’s heart.

Setting up the charity in 2010 following his retirement, Dallaglio hoped to use rugby as a tool to put young people on the right path, much like it did for him.

“Being blunt and brutally honest, rugby changed the course of my life,” Dallaglio said. “I didn’t grow up thinking I was going to be a rugby player.

“I lost my sister, Francesca, when I was 16 in the Marchioness riverboat disaster, I was pretty lost and making some pretty bad decisions. I was getting myself into all sorts of trouble.

“I knew that I needed to change the course of my life and I joined a rugby club, Wasps. What I needed was the family, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging. Just someone to put their arms around me and that’s exactly what happened.”

 

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Funds will be allocated across England and Wales to help the 160 children who are excluded from school on a weekly basis.

Only four percent of those students excluded will finish their education with qualifications and after the global pandemic, rates of exclusion are only increasing.

Aiming to be working with over 7,000 young people by 2027, Dallaglio believes that by giving students struggling with exclusion a constant, it will ensure that in the long term they will not be excluded from society as a whole.

“When I retired in 2008, I started to investigate the area around young people and I was drawn into this area around exclusion,” Dallaglio said.

“There is a serious issue in the UK around exclusion and no one is really helping these young people.

“No young people are born bad, they are just born into chaotic situations and the majority of young people we work with have got a story to tell.

“All they really need is a support system and for someone to help them. That’s exactly what I needed when I was 16.”

Dallaglio was joined on the road by a host of teammates old and new to help him in his efforts.

One star name to pledge his time and support to RugbyWorks was former Wham! singer Andrew Ridgeley, who has become an avid cyclist in recent years.

Joining the pair in the peloton was perhaps one of the most decorated Lions of the modern era.

Rugby World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson has also become a cycling obsessive and was quick to get involved with the Cycle Slam when the opportunity presented itself.

“Who would have ever thought Martin Johnson and I would cycle together?” Dallaglio chuckled.

“We became very good friends in the 97 Lions Tour, we had a rivalry for many years and we shared some amazing memories together.

“He is a keen cyclist and supported RugbyWorks and the Cycle Slam as much as possible. He was the first one to put his hand up.

“Allan Lamb, my friend from cricket, was just fantastic value. I kept looking over at Allan, who is nearly 70, and he has hardly cycled before, and he put some training in and he produced an amazing effort.

“We put together an amazing team. It’s not just the cyclists. I’ve learnt a lot from touring, and you can’t be successful without an amazing team around you.

“So hats off to the support staff, mechanics, medical team, paramedics, caterers. It was probably as well organised as a Lions Tour itself.”

Dallaglio claimed that after this most recent Cycle Slam, he would be hanging up the spandex for good after seven mammoth undertakings.

Now basking in the warm glow of finishing a gruelling week in the saddle, the 51-year-old hints that he may have changed his mind somewhere along the mountain roads between Rome and Nice.

“I’m not getting any younger,” Dallaglio smiled. “I don’t know, never say never. I played No.8 and seven is not my favourite number. If there is a last one, it might be number eight. We’ll see.

“Reflecting on this one, it was incredibly successful. If I’m totally honest I’d probably like to do another one.”

Dallaglio RugbyWorks is an Official Charity Partner of The British & Irish Lions. They deliver programmes for young people who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion from school.

They provide interventions aimed at developing life skills, increasing employer interactions and opportunities, and preparing young people for the workplace.

RugbyWorks engages young people using the values of rugby, alongside bespoke learning sessions and individualised mentoring, with the goal to move them towards sustained education, employment and training (EET). To find out more, visit: https://www.dallagliorugbyworks.com/

Donate to Lawrence Dallaglio’s JustGiving page herehttps://www.justgiving.com/page/lawrencedallaglio

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