Yesterday I was lucky enough to spend time at the Dallaglio RugbyWorks national rugby tournament. What a fantastic day.
RugbyWorks, the charity of former England rugby captain and World Cup winner, Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, helps young people excluded from mainstream education break out of predicted patterns of unemployment, poverty and even criminality and establish rewarding careers and active lives.
Using rugby to engage boys and girls at Alternative Provision (AP) schools, the hard-working RugbyWorks coaches build confidence and skills in young people with limited prospects, while introducing them to potential careers through corporate employability days. They’ve been so successful that major businesses are beginning to ringfence apprenticeships exclusively for youngsters coming through the three-year scheme.
Dallaglio’s personal stake in RugbyWorks
With his mantra of “You are what you’re exposed to”, there’s no question that RugbyWorks is a real passion project for Dallaglio. The former British & Irish Lions number eight realises that, if it wasn’t for rugby, his young life might have taken a very different path.
That very personal desire to give kids failed by mainstream society another chance was clearly on display at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena yesterday, home of Wasps, Dallaglio’s club for the whole of his 28-year career. More than 100 kids from AP schools across England and Wales came to play on the same pitch as rugby’s biggest names, with Dallaglio offering encouragement and wisdom about sporting values and respect. This obviously wasn’t the first time he’d met many of these young people.
Opportunities for sport, work and life
Some of RugbyWorks’ corporate partners brought business-related games and activities for players to try out between matches and, wherever they’d come from, everyone sat down together for pie and mash at lunch.
Dallaglio RugbyWorks staff prepared a terrific event – right down to ordering sunshine that bathed the Ricoh as play began –
and 15 schools played with great sporting passion. It was impossible to imagine any reason why the kids I shared the day with shouldn’t have the same access to opportunities as everyone else.
For the record, congratulations to Porth County Community School from the Rhondda Valley, pictured, for becoming RugbyWorks Champions 2017. Well done to everyone at the charity for their tireless efforts both on this day and every day they’re helping give marginalised young people another chance.
To find out more about Dallaglio RugbyWorks, read their Social Impact report and see how you can support them as an individual or organisation, go to www.dallagliorugbyworks.com.