World Cup rugby star thanks his Wycombe school

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson

First published in Sport by

WORLD Cup winner Matt Dawson described the reception from thousands of fans at Heathrow as 'mindblowing' before going on to thank the Royal Grammar School for putting him on the road to superstardom.

More than 8,000 rugby fans from all over the country gave the team a heroes' reception when they landed at Heathrow in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

And Dawson, a former junior at Marlow Rugby Club, admitted he was stunned.

He said: "It was absolutely awesome.

"Nobody could really explain what it felt to be a world champion but coming back and seeing that airport was mindblowing.

"There were thousands of people there lining the streets , cars parked in the middle of the road, in the middle of the roundabout, on the bypass. It was just surreal."

But Dawson was the coolest man around in the heat of battle on Saturday when he fed the ball out to Jonny Wilkinson for England's winning drop goal deep into extra time.

He said: "All that was going through my mind was that we needed to win the ball, create a little bit of momentum, get as close to the posts as possible and try and put Jonny in the pocket to kick the goal.

"It was just part of the drill that we do in training. There was no time for any emotion or any other thoughts."

But as soon as the kick went over and the final whistle sounded it was very different.

He said: "I still can't really describe how I felt. I was very pleased and happy but it was more disbelief than anything else.

"It is beginning to sink in now that we have come back and seen the crowds at the airport but I will let it take its time.

"Sitting here in front of all the media having just left thousands of fans and a fantastic atmosphere at the airport - it doesn't get much better than that coming home.

"It is a life-changing moment, no question. We have got to make sure we enjoy it as much as we possibly can now."

Before the final Dawson was sent a good luck fax by the staff and pupils at his old school.

He said: "We have all had hundreds of messages and faxes and it is one of those times when each of the players in the squad thinks of the people or the moments in their lives that have got them to where they are today.

"Certainly, part of that for me is my school at RGS High Wycombe. I know they are very proud of me and I'm very proud to have gone there. It was a huge part of my rugby development."

Rowland Brown, who was Dawson's head teacher at the time, said: "I'm absolutely chuffed to bits for him. I remember him as the nippiest schoolboy scrum half I have ever seen.

"He was always very chirpy in the the classroom and on the field.

"As a schoolboy player he was absolutely outstanding. But you couldn't foretell then that he would be a World Cup winner."

And Brown went onto praise former RGS rugbymaster Colin Tattersall who played such a big part in Dawson's development.

He said: "Colin has been an outstanding coach, encourager and motivator to people like Matt."

Tattersall said: "I'm very, very proud of him. It was a proud day for him, a proud day for the RGS and a proud day for me.

"He was always a bit special. It was very emotional sitting him at home seeing him there and watching him but he was just himself. He was very cool and very calm."

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