CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - Dallaglio should have been better prepared for the media circus

Lawrence Dallaglio may have been foolish, but he was also let down by a lack of forethought on the part of his advisers, says Hugo Brooke, managing director of Media Interviews.

Lawrence Dallaglio may have been foolish, but he was also let down

by a lack of forethought on the part of his advisers, says Hugo Brooke,

managing director of Media Interviews.



Guilty or not, Lawrence Dallaglio emerged last week as a foolish young

man who had been the victim of bad or weak professional advice.



When England’s former rugby captain met two hard-nosed News of the World

hacks pretending to be Gillette executives, he was alone - no agent, no

lawyer to stop him diving feet first into what must have seemed a

tempting trap.



Yet when he walked into the ’Spirit of Rugby’ suite at Twickenham two

days later, he was flanked by minders to protect him from a media pack

baying for answers.



It was all too late. Dallaglio’s alleged dalliance with drug taking, or

worse, dealing, had already escaped from Wapping in a blaze of publicity

and was quickly becoming yesterday’s headline. By the time of the press

conference, Dallaglio had already resigned as captain, seemingly

confirming the accusations against him.



It was another disastrous error which begged the question: where were

the rugby officials, lawyers and PR advisers before he got himself into

such a mess? Why had Dallaglio not been trained to spot the tackier

tricks of the hack? With that knowledge, he could have danced away from

the messiest scrum of his life without needing to glance back.



When he came to perform before the world’s press, he held his head high

as cameras fired off their salvos. He then went into Ron Davies mode for

a few minutes, suitably contrite, but luckily without scrawling ’sorry’

on his hand. But some reporters spotted a flicker of defiance.



Overall, he left too many questions in the air unanswered. Why had he

spoken for more than four hours about drugs? To impress two executives

who wanted a role model for inner-city kids wanting to learn rugby?

Surely not.



There was no impression either that his professional minders had helped

him with his message. If his agent, Ashley Woolfe, or his lawyer had

followed the dictates of media training, the conference would not have

been brought to an abrupt halt with one reporter’s question about

Dallaglio’s motives left unanswered.



Being frank about a personal failing can often strike a sympathetic

chord with the public - or even Fleet Street. But Dallaglio hasn’t been

taught such skills. If he had been, he would probably never have got

into such a mess in the first place.



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