Who are we?

The Dallaglio Foundation, established in 2009 by England rugby legend Lawrence Dallaglio, helps young people tackle life in a positive way. Our programme RugbyWorks, uses rugby to transform the aspirations of young people: 14 to 16 year olds at increased risk of long-term unemployment, criminality and imprisonment. We aim to make a profound impact on the marginalised lives of those excluded from mainstream education – increasing self-worth, improving life chances and boosting their chances of a future in employment.

What do we do and why?

Working in Pupil Referral Units, RugbyWorks gives young people the practical support, experience and ability that helps them believe and invest in the possibility of a better future. Often for the very first time.

We don’t expect that to happen overnight. Which is why it’s important we’re central to each school’s curriculum – so we can build long-term relationships. A small group of just 10 young people per school get to know us over 30 weeks per year, for two years.

Why do we do this? Because we know there are a huge range of factors leading students to be excluded from mainstream education. And, whatever that reason, we don’t believe that should signal exclusion from mainstream society too.

Our approach is based around a clear three-step journey of engagement, integration and achievement.

The first term of our first year concentrates on having fun and putting everyone at ease. It’s vital that young people and coaches feel comfortable with each other. We introduce games around the physical effort of playing rugby and build up to our first team tournament. This preparatory work helps 80% of the young people stick with us for the full two years.

Our physical programme provides an outlet. But we place the greatest emphasis on mentoring and personal development. Our trained coaches take time to build mutual trust so they can offer personal advice and practical support. They offer stability to unstable lives. They become constant, genuine presences who understand the young people and their environment. We’re proud that we help 30% of the young people we work with get involved in another non-school activity of their choice.

We provide CV and interview workshops, training and work experience. Through our black book of contacts, we find opportunities that our young people want, whatever their circumstances or aspirations. All participants attend employability or taster days. We work with businesses like Bidvest Logistics, Google, Shell and Halfords. 30% even take part in three or more days of work experience. And 4 out of 5 leave us with a defined life plan for their future after the Pupil Referral Unit.

Others benefit too. 88% of teachers in Pupil Referral Units told us they were verbally abused by students. 70% had been physically threatened. 54% physically assaulted. So when teachers at the schools we work with said that 83% of our 14 to 16 year olds are now less aggressive and confrontational, the potential for better school environments and teacher welfare becomes clear.

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Shawn’s Story

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Shawn, 16

Being involved in gangs from a young age Shawn was heading in a dangerous direction and lost focus around who he was and what he wanted to be. Having fallen in with the wrong crowd Shawn started playing up at school, constantly getting in fights and arguing with teachers. He eventually pushed his luck too far and got permanently excluded.

When the RugbyWorks programme came to Shawn’s Pupil Referral Unit he was the first to show an interest and he had rekindled his interest in rugby from when he played as a youngster.

“When I heard the Dallaglio Foundation were going to run rugby sessions I couldn’t wait to get back into it.”

After an impressive start at the PRU and the RugbyWorks programme, the lure of his gang and life outside had tempted Shawn away from the sessions and school. He was getting suspended again for fighting and seemed to be heading only one way. But when he was invited to one of our events his attitude took a remarkable change.

He was chosen to attend a trip to Google head offices along with 14 other students from PRU’s across London. Shawn was so grateful for the opportunity and a week later he was chosen to captain his school in the Dallaglio Foundation’s first RugbyWorks tournament. He led his team to 2nd place, team of the tournament and won an award for his sportsmanship.

Since that day he has represented the Dallaglio Foundation at an event at the Goring Hotel where he met Lawrence Dallaglio and spoke to our corporate partners, one of whom offered him the opportunity to visit her catering school.

“Our visit to the Goring Hotel was an amazing experience, I was given the chance to speak to some very important people in the catering industry. I was also lucky enough to speak to Lawrence Dallaglio himself!”

Shawn has not missed a session since that day at the tournament and is even staying later on Fridays to catch up on his core subjects he missed instead of choosing to go hang out with his gang.

Shawn is very likeable and is always polite and friendly when we come to deliver at school. In the sessions he lets out all his pent up frustrations and leaves that on the pitch whereas before he would use that for fighting. Now he is looking to get back involved with a rugby team once he has finished his GCSE’s and wants to get the best results he can.

“The Dallaglio Foundation has given me many opportunities to do amazing things, I am glad to be a part of it”
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