Q&A: ER 2015 Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio
One of England’s most decorated back row forwards, Lawrence Dallaglio can now be found behind the microphone as a TV commentator and pundit. He’s also currently in training for his latest charity bike ride with former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff (click here for more info).
In his playing days, his all-out style led him to captain England on 22 occasions. A member of the Rugby World Cup 2003-winning side as well as the France 2007 runners-up, Dallaglio also toured with the British and Irish Lions three times. Here he talks about his role as one of England Rugby 2015’s Ambassadors.
How did the Ambassador role come about?
I was invited to be part of the team that pitched to try to win RWC 2015, along with Paul Vaughan, who was then Commercial Director of the RFU; Francis Baron (then CEO); Andy Burnham, then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; and Will Greenwood, so I was very proud to do so. We flew to Dublin to present to the IRB – we were up against Japan, South Africa and Italy – and we were fortunate to be selected by the IRB to host RWC 2015.
As a result of that, Paul Vaughan asked me to be involved in helping to deliver it. I think it’s very clear what our roles and responsibilities are for 2015 – the IRB own the RWC and it’s run by Rugby World Cup Limited but we are the host nation and we’ve got to deliver on the infrastructure and ticket sales and I’m very proud and honoured to be part of that team as a Rugby World Cup 2015 Ambassador.
What has it involved so far?
At this stage, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. It starts to come alive because the first rugby (qualifying) match for RWC 2015 is being played this year. As we get closer to the tournament our job is to make sure we have as many people as possible that want to come and watch the RWC and we want to make that experience the best it’s been so far and make it a special thing.
What does it mean to you to be involved?
It’s a sense of pride for me, not just to win the right to host the competition but that we get to share that with the country and get everyone involved. A huge amount of pride, a huge amount of excitement and also huge excitement that, even though I don’t have any direct influence on it, England might be in a decent place with their team by then as well. It’s an opportunity for us to showcase what we’ve got and deliver something special.
How does the build-up as an Ambassador differ to that as a player?
I’ve been fortunate to play in two Finals and it was my great privilege to win one. I was lucky enough to be asked to commentate on the Final of RWC 2011 so I’ve been involved in three RWC Finals, which is great. New Zealand was just an amazing tournament, they talked about 'a stadium of four million people' and it was very intimate and a lot of fun for all the fans. RWC 2015, being in our own country makes it very special given what we can do with sporting events – Olympics, World Championships, the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, Commonwealth Games in 2014 – this is a country that can host big global events.
What lessons do you think were learned from New Zealand?
By the nature of how the world works, every tournament should get better and better. New Zealand did a great job but they probably learned from tournaments that have gone before and it’s up to us to do an even better job and that will get taken up by Japan. Rather like getting to the RWC Final, you never know if hosting a World Cup will happen again. We’ve been entrusted with that privilege, we’re unlikely to get that again for some time, we’ve got to really go for it and hopefully build on the RWC legacy in a positive way.
Is it fair to say English rugby wasn’t ready for what happened after RWC 2003?
England never really knew what it was like to be on top of the world because we hadn’t been there in rugby, so you can hardly blame them, it took us all by surprise. We planned to win the RWC, we didn’t plan for what would happen after we won it. But we are in a better place now.
What do the next three years hold?
There’s a small matter of the Olympic Games on everyone’s minds at the moment but no doubt there will be some interesting lessons that we can learn from the way we host that competition and some really good things that we can take away. The mission for all of us is to deliver the biggest and best RWC yet. We’ve got to fill a lot of very big stadiums with fans for every single game and make sure everyone has a fantastic time. Interestingly in 2013, it will be the 10th anniversary of England’s success in the RWC Final [and the rough midpoint between RWCs], so 22 November 2013 could be quite an interesting date for everyone.
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