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
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?
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.