The River talks to KU alum and former World Cup winning England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio.
You would never have thought that the career of one of Kingston’s most famous, talented and decorated alumni began while living in a houseboat throughout his fresher’s year.
It was the life for Lawrence Dallaglio, the third highest capped England player of all times, who was given an honorary degree from KU this month. The former World Cup winning England rugby captain had four years of “great fun, great parties and great nights out” during his university time.
Lawrence studied urban estate management during his time at Kingston but, due to his commitments to top-level rugby, only ever played one match for Kingston.
The four time Six Nations winner told The River: “In a match against St Mary’s College I played one match for the Kingston Rams, as they were called back then. For the record, we did beat St Mary’s but I can’t quite remember the score.”
Kingston was the perfect choice
Lawrence did not plan on going to university at all, but after coming through the clearing system and deciding to “knuckle down” on what his future should be, he eventually did come to Kingston.
At the time he was just starting with the London Wasps, so needed a place and course that could provide easy links with the club while still getting a good degree. Kingston was the perfect match to that.
Having always lived in and around West London and going to prep school in Richmond, Lawrence knew the area well and just missed out on getting a place in halls, an essential for some students, and instead chose rather more unusual means of housing.
“I lived on a houseboat near Twickenham in Strawberry Hill, called ‘ Bardot on Swan Island Harbor’. I was too late to get a room at Clayhill but enjoyed living on the boat with my friend and Wasps teammate, Lawrence Grace. He was studying the same course.”
Lawrence looks back on his time at Kingston with fond memories and glowing terms.
“I enjoyed university life. There is no doubt about it; Kingston is a great place to be. It’s just 20 minutes away from one of the most inspirational cities in the world.
“I remember going to the Students’ Union and having great fun, great parties and great nights out. We used to go to a club called ‘ Options’, a big nightclub on the Kingston roundabout. There were loads of clubs and bars which we students took full advantage of.”
Not your typical fresher
Lawrence holds just a hint of remorse for not being able to enjoy the first year antics to the fullest but his career of succeeding at the highest level of sport is certainly something worth missing a few nights down the pub for.
He also keeps in regular touch with his old university friends and colleagues jokingly adding: “It is amazing what international rugby tickets do for friendships.”
The rugby legend decided to do his degree in urban estate management after Lawrence Grace told him about the “outstanding” course that Kingston offered.
“For me, surveying and rugby always had very strong links so I thought it was a very good degree to be doing while trying to pursue a professional rugby career at the same time. I knew that Kingston had a strong reputation in the urban estate management and surveying department.”
Lawrence took a sandwich course at KU, taking a year off for a work placement at the real estate consultancy company Lambert Smith Hampton. Soon after finishing at Kingston, he focused more on his promising rugby career but still kept an eye on the university course.
“I never actually became a fully-fledged surveyor but I have had a number of properties and some property deals in various shops and pubs that I have owned. I now have a small property portfolio. So, I have used my degree to a certain extent but not perhaps as much as I would have liked.”