Rugby Union: England to end disgraced Dallaglio's exile

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The Independent Online
LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO has been cleared to take part in England's fitness training session on 19 July. It had been feared that the former England captain - the subject of an inquiry into claims he made, then later denied, about drug-taking and dealing - would be forced to miss the England get-together, which is a crucial part of the World Cup preparations.

But a statement issued from Twickenham yesterday gave Dallaglio the all- clear to rejoin his international team-mates. He quit as England captain and withdrew from the tour to Australia after his "confessions" appeared in a newspaper.

The statement said: "The RFU management board and the independent inquiry panel, under Sir John Kay [a high court judge], has carefully considered the position and have concluded, prior to the inquiry panel producing its findings, that Lawrence Dallaglio should not be excluded from squad training sessions. The position will be reviewed as appropriate when the inquiry panel's report is issued."

It is a sensible decision from a legal point of view, since if Dallaglio had been excluded from training it would probably have prejudiced his case; whereas, until the panel publishes its findings, nothing is lost by Dallaglio being included in the England activities. However, it cannot be taken as a sign of the panel finding in Dallaglio's favour.

The panel has not been put under pressure to produce its findings and there is therefore no guarantee that Dallaglio's fate will be decided by the time England announce their World Cup squad in early September.

Dallaglio was unavailable for comment yesterday, but the England coach Clive Woodward said: "On behalf of all the players and management, we are pleased to welcome Lawrence back to the squad for training. Lawrence withdrew from the summer tour to Australia and the captaincy in May and that was a decision I supported. As and when a decision is made following the inquiry panel's report, we will be in a position to determine his future availability."