31/08/2004

England rugby captain Dallaglio retires

The England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio has announced that he is to retire from the international game with immediate effect.

With 73 caps to his name, and an England career stretching back 10 years, Dallaglio said that now was the right time to step aside. However, the 32-year-old said that he would see out the remaining two years of his club contract.

At a press conference held this morning at Twickenham, the London Wasps stalwart said he had experienced no greater honour or privilege than to play for his country.

“I've been very fortunate to have played with and against some of the greatest players the game has ever seen," he added.

“I've been lucky enough to have been involved in the England squad since 1994 and I feel after 10 years of being an England player the time is right to step aside. I've always felt, perhaps as other players before me, that I would know, almost instinctively, when it was the right time to retire from playing for England. I honestly feel that time is now."

He thanked his wife Alice and his three children for their support and the players and coaching staff at London Wasps. He also thanked England coach Sir Clive Woodward, the RFU and all the supporters and sponsors.

England Head Coach, Sir Clive Woodward OBE, said Dallaglio had been an outstanding player and a great captain.

“Lawrence was my first captain when I took over the role in September 1997 and he has always been an important and valued member of the squad. He played in every match during the RWC in 2003 and was an integral part of the squad that was unbeaten on the 2003 summer tour and won the Grand Slam and the Rugby World Cup in the same year," he said.

Sir Clive, who will take the British Lions to New Zealand next year, said that today's retirement decision would "not preclude him from consideration for the tour".

The hugely respected backrow forward's first outing as England captain was in November 1997 when he led England to a 15-15 drew against Australia. With 22 matches as England captain, Dallaglio lies third in England's list of longest-serving captains behind Will Carling (59 matches) and Martin Johnson (39 matches).

However, his record leading the newly crowned world champions was disappointing – first there was a shock third placing in the Six Nations, then two devastating tour defeats to Australia and New Zealand.

Dallaglio playing every minute of every game during England’s victorious 2003 Rugby World Cup campaign, returning to England in his testimonial year to captain his London Wasps side to victory in both the Zurich Premiership final and the Heineken Cup final in May.

The next England captain will be named in advance of the Investec Challenge Series matches against Canada, South Africa and Australia in November.

(gmcg)

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