Premiership - Dallaglio confident of Wasps resurgence

EXCLUSIVE: Wasps legend Lawrence Dallaglio believes his troubled former club are on the verge of putting tough times behind them.

Eurosport
Premiership - Dallaglio confident of Wasps resurgence
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RUGBY 2007-2008 Guinness Prem London Wasps Leicester-London Wasps Dallaglio

One-club-man Dallaglio spent 18 successful years with the Aviva Premiership side, during which time they won six league titles, three Anglo-Welsh Cups and two Heineken Cups.

Since the 40-year-old’s retirement in 2008, however, the club have suffered a fall from grace which has seen numerous key players move onto pastures new and their league position gradually lower, with last term almost ending in relegation.

Dallaglio, speaking exclusively to Eurosport while visiting schools as part of his latest ambassadorial project with Chewits, told of his heartbreak watching the team’s plight over the last four years but says under Dai Young, the darkest days are over.

“Last season was a difficult time for Wasps,” Dallaglio said. “They were hindered by a number of high-profile injuries which cost them a wealth of experience, as did some of the departures.

“As a result, promising youth players were called upon earlier than planned and thrown in at the deep end and played a lot longer and more often than anyone would have liked.

“But the new blood has responded and are playing really well now. It’s also great to see the likes of Tom Palmer and James Haskell back.

“It has to be said that Dai Young has done a fantastic job considering the limited resources available and he has the side growing in line with other Premiership clubs.

“They are playing much better this season so far than last term, but it will take time before they can return to the heights of previous years.”

Wasps survived on the final day of the 2011/12 campaign, finishing narrowly ahead of bottom-placed Newcastle Falcons.

Newcastle at one point looked set to avoid relegation to the RFU Championship after 2012 winners London Welsh were initially denied a place in the top flight at the Falcons expense until a successful appeal.

Dallaglio’s former head coach at Adams Park Sir Ian McGeechan, currently jointly-tasked with leading a performance review of elite rugby in England, recently called for promotion and relegation between the two tiers to be scrapped entirely, a debate which the former England flanker remains uncertain about.

“The issue of promotion and relegation and whether or not to get rid of it is always a tricky debate,” Dallaglio told Eurosport.

“You can lose the essence of the sport without the fear of relegation and the prize of promotion for second-tier sides, but the division and the teams inside it can take more risks without fear of the drop which benefits the sport in so many ways.

“Culturally speaking, we expect relegation and promotion here in England but there really is a fine line as the harsh reality is that not many clubs are actually capable of coming up in terms of resources and so on.

“The issue is far from finalised anyway, and could be debated for years to come.”

Dallaglio has enjoyed giving back to both rugby and sports in general since leaving active play in 2008, and feels the Chewits Premier Sport scheme can help build on the glowing sporting impression made on British youth by the successful London 2012 Olympics.

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“The scheme sees us visiting schools all over the country, working with kids aged eight and upwards across a range of curriculums to stress the importance of healthy eating and participating in sports,” he explained.

“We’ve been running sessions all morning at Coopers Company and Coborn School in Upminister, working with kids aged eight-12 and then under-16s after lunch.

“The Olympics was a massive success and its influence on youth spread not just through London but all over Great Britain.

“We have discussed the Games at length with the schoolchildren. Most of them watched a good deal of it on television and some attended events live.

“It’s great that the Games are inspiring so many to participate in more sports but it’s important we keep that momentum going through the world championships and the Commonwealth Games.

“I work full time with my foundation since my retirement, raising money for youth development and cancer research. So you could say between this and Chewits Premier Sport I have kept myself busy!”

And far from being associated with the brand through work alone, Dallaglio admitted to having a soft spot for the sweet snacks – particularly of the sour variety.

“I was always a fan of the Xtreme Chewits,” he told us. “I have always liked sour sweets and the sour version of Chewits are my kind of thing.”

Lawrence Dallaglio was speaking on behalf of Chewits Sport Courses, which run throughout the UK during school holidays and are designed to give children of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy being active.

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