|Internationals||85 caps between 1995 and 2007
|Inducted||England v Italy (February 10, 2007)
The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn, which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.
Lawrence Dallaglio, despite his Italian father, was brought up in England, and with his mother being half English and half Irish, he had further choices to make. He made his England debut against South Africa as a replacement in 1995.
The former London Wasps back-row forward could be said to have had tunnel vision about Twickenham Stadium, although ‘tunnel love’ might be more accurate.
“I love being in the tunnel just before a game,” said Dallaglio. “You don’t have to walk too far to get out on to the pitch, but when you are in it you can see and hear the crowd, which is not always the case. You only have a couple of seconds and then you’re immediately out there. That was always a pretty special place for me at Twickenham.”
Of course he also remembered the Stadium’s celebrated baths, and Jason Leonard’s thwarted attempt to make off with one when the old West Stand was demolished in the early 1990s.
But it was not just the ground that is special to Dallaglio. He also appreciated the people who worked there, in particular the groundstaff.
“I have a lot of respect for the groundstaff,” said the former England captain. “They work tirelessly and they are good lads. They have always been helpful to me, unlocking doors, doing as much as they possibly can for me when I have trained at Twickenham. And they are always on hand to make me a nice cup of tea or coffee. They have always been brilliant.”
Naturally for someone with 85 England caps and whose club Wasps have also graced the stage at Headquarters on more than one occasion, Dallaglio had a veritable flotilla of memories of the ground.
Oddly, though, one of his earliest memories was not as a player, but as a spectator. Dallaglio took up the tale. “It was back in the days of the old Twickenham. It was 1991 and the Grand Slam decider between England and France. It was the match that had that try when Philippe Saint Andre scored at the end of a move that had begun under the France posts.
“I was in the West Stand with the rest of the England Under 19 team. We had just played Italy Under 19 the day before at Cambridge [a match the Italians won by a point] and had been given tickets for the match. We were down near the touchline in our blazers and the noise was unbelievable.
“Twickenham is a magnificent stadium now, but it was still very impressive then. I remember Brian Moore, the England hooker, coming over to take a lineout right in front of us, and he had to ask what the lineout call was a few times before he got it. The atmosphere was incredible that day.”
By 1991 though, Dallaglio was no stranger to Twickenham. “I have been coming to Twickenham since I was kid. I played for King’s House School, my prep school, across the width of the Twickenham pitch in a mini rugby tournament and I scored a try then.
“But going back to that game against France in 1991, England went on to win that game, and the Grand Slam, and that went a long way to making Twickenham a special place for me. It became something of a fortress in the late 1990s through to 2000, with memorable victories along the way against the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
“So there have been lots of great days there for me with England, but I have to say that in a different but remarkable way, my last appearance at Twickenham was an amazing day, when I played in the Help for Heroes match. It was game that raised money for a worthy cause, watched by 55,000 people.”
But Twickenham did not confine its special appeal to representative games that Dallaglio played in. “It has also been a very special place for Wasps.”
That is undeniable. On the two occasions when Twickenham was selected to stage the Heineken European Cup final, Wasps have won the tournament.
The first time was in the 2003/04 season when they beat the previous season’s European Champions Toulouse 27-20. Later that season club captain Dallaglio led Wasps to a unique Twickenham double when they won the Zurich Premiership final, narrowly beating Bath.
Wasps went on to beat Leicester in the Premiership play-off final the following season, a comprehensive 39-14 victory, and the season after that they beat Llanelli in the cross-border knock-out competition which was then known as the Powergen Cup.
“I think we have only lost one final at Twickenham in my time,” recalled Dallaglio, “and that was in 1998 when we were beaten by Saracens.”
All in all Twickenham was clearly good to Dallaglio and even his last match there left him on a high. That was in 2008, when Wasps recorded yet another Premiership final triumph, this time over Leicester. “If we hadn’t won that game I probably wouldn’t have retired,” he said.
But if Twickenham was good to Dallaglio then he was certainly been good for the ground, not to mention England and Wasps. His induction on to the World Rugby Museum’s Wall of Fame was a natural progression.
“These days Twickenham is a phenomenal stadium and I think the Wall of Fame is a great idea,” he said. “It has ensured there is a focus on the players, although there have certainly been more than 50 great players for England. And to be included on it is worthy praise indeed.”
Article by Dai Llewellyn