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Lawrence Dallaglio retires but vows to return to help heroes

5th June 2008

Lawrence Dallaglio, who recently led London Wasps to the Guinness Premiership title at Twickenham, will return to the stadium in September as the best-known face in rugby's support for servicemen wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dallaglio, who retired from the sport after 18 years in the colours of Wasps, England and the British Lions, has been designated the non-playing captain of a Help for Heroes XV, but he has not ruled out taking the field himself against an international selection in a match, which aims to raise £1million.

The event is designed to support the efforts of servicemen and women and the need to help those injured in the line of duty, has gathered support from leading figures in the game, from former players, from Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, and from the deputy chairman of the Conservative party, Lord Ashcroft, who owns the largest collection - more than 140 - of the highest award for conspicuous bravery, the Victoria Cross.

The specific aim of the charity, Help for Heroes, begun last October by Bryn Parry, the cartoonist and himself a former serviceman, is to raise £9million to complete the refurbishment of the swimming pool at Headley Court, Leatherhead, where service personnel injured on duty receive treatment. Hydrotherapy is a vital component for the men and women whose lives have been changed by the wounds received in battle and whose fight to recover some normality in their daily lives is a never-ending struggle.

Neither Dallaglio nor Scott Gibbs, the former Wales centre who was his playing colleague on the 1997 Lions tour in South Africa, had any hesitation in accepting leadership of the respective XVs for a match on September 20, which the organisers believe will fill Twickenham to its 82,000 capacity. Given that the annual Army-Royal Navy match last month drew more than 50,000, it is a realistic ambition, despite the rival attractions over the weekend of Premiership and Magners League matches, not to mention the Ryder Cup golf tournament and tennis's Davis Cup.

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