I was naive, foolish and I lied, says Dallaglio

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The Independent Online
"LIES," LAWRENCE Dallaglio virtually growled yesterday as he tried to explain his side of the now infamous drugs scandal.

His own lies admittedly, but lies all the same. He had said all those things that the News of the World claimed he had, but none of it was true. It all had been said to try to impress those devious reporters.

Mr Dallaglio looked like a man in pain as he faced the media, the morning after resigning the England rugby captaincy. Clearly humiliated by having had to call the meeting and face embarrassing questions, he quickly made his position clear.

Yes, he had "experimented" with drugs as a teenager though he deeply regretted it now; no, he had never sold drugs; no, he had not taken drugs during the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa; and no, he did not condone the use of drugs.

He had been foolish and naive - and apparently blind drunk, according to what he has told friends. It was as simple as that. Except, quite clearly, that it was not. A match report of Mr Dallaglio's performance at the press conference at the headquarters of the Rugby Football Union in Twickenham would have been mixed.

In attack he did quite well, blaming the reporters for leading him on to say things he had not meant. "I was naive and foolish and ... I was following a line of questioning that was instigated by the reporters," he explained, saying he had been drawn into the "sting" by talk of a fictitious pounds 500,000 sponsorship deal from the razor manufacturers Gillette, including a scheme to fund inner-city rugby.

"These reporters were openly admitting to me their confessions of what they had done. Therefore they were leading me by those allegations of their own behaviour into suggesting what I might do or don't do."

But in defence, the 17-stone Wasps flanker known for his fearless tackling was rather more suspect. Why, he was asked, had he told lies?

"[I] created stories which simply weren't true in an attempt to ... impress them," he said unconvincingly.

But why did he think they were going to be impressed by his mendacious stories?

"A lot of people are saying, `Well, why are you making up stories like that to try and impress them', but, as I said before, a lot of it was fabrication, and I'm sure a lot of what they were saying was fabrication."

Was it perhaps that the Wasp caught in a honey trap by a "buxom blonde" had been hoping for something more than just an inner-city rugby scheme? Sadly no one had the chance to ask, as the press conference was called to an end.

Whether Mr Dallaglio's performance yesterday was good enough to save his career remains unclear. England coach Clive Woodward, who attended the press conference to offer support, hinted it may have been and said he was extremely proud of a player who had been a "right prat".

He added: "He could have done it with a press statement and lawyers, but he wants to walk down the street with his head held high and nothing more attached to him than that he has been foolish."

Gillette anger, Dallaglio's statement, page 2; Deborah Orr, Review, page 5

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