Full name Matthew James Sutherland Dawson
Born October 31, 1972, Birkenhead
Current age 42 years 341 days
Major teams Barbarians, British and Irish Lions, Northampton Saints, Wasps, England
Height 5 ft 10 in
Weight 198 lb
|British and Irish Lions||1997-2005||7||4||3||10||2||0||0||0||2||5||0||28.57|
|IRB Rugby World Cup||1999-2003||10||9||1||17||3||1||0||0||8||2||0||80.00|
|Test debut||England v Samoa at Twickenham, Dec 16, 1995 match details|
|Last Test||England v Ireland at Twickenham, Mar 18, 2006 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list|
Matt Dawson is a former England and British & Irish Lions scrum-half who won the World Cup in 2003 and has since become a television celebrity. He was renowned for his quick tap penalties to start moves and his dummying ability which often flummoxed opponents.
Dawson was a gifted sportsman as a youngster but channelled his talents to rugby which resulted in him joining Northampton in 1991. Two years later Dawson tasted success for the first time in national colours as he won the Sevens World Cup with England. He was in the side with Lawrence Dallaglio, a player he would share success with for club and country later in his career with Wasps and England respectively.
In December 1995 he made his Test debut against Samoa and played all four matches in the following year's Five Nations which saw England win the championship. Despite taking the title Dawson was in a battle with other scrum-halfs, such as Austin Healey and Kyran Bracken, and did not play another test until 1997 for the British Lions.
He went on the tour to South Africa as the back-up number 9 behind Wales' Rob Howley and Healey. However, an injury to Howley, and some strong performances by Dawson in the warm-up matches meant the Saints' star had his chance and he took it. Dawson took the ball from a ruck in the final ten minutes of the first Test and threw an overhead dummy, which fooled four Springboks and opposite number Joost van der Westhuizen, before he touched down in the corner. The Lions won the match and in the second Test he also set up Jeremy Guscott to score the winning drop goal as the Lions won the series.
In 2000 Dawson had the honour of leading England in the Six Nations whilst Martin Johnson was injured. In the autumn that year, after a famous 22-19 victory over Australia at Twickenham, Dawson was pivotal in the England players going on strike over a pay dispute. The England players felt they should be paid on match-fees and appearances and less emphasis should be put on performance related pay. Despite Clive Woodward feeling betrayed Dawson said: "I would run out, like every player, for England for absolutely nothing. But it is my livelihood, my mortgage."
In 2001 Dawson started for the Lions down under against Australia instead of the injured Howley in the series decider. The Lions lost and it ended a controversial tour for Dawson who had openly criticised head coach Graham Henry's strict regime. The tour was run conversely to Ian McGeechan's leadership four years earlier, which was widely regarded as a success due to the camaraderie between the players. Dawson said in his tour diary on the eve of the first Test that Henry "doesn't inspire me at all" and coach Donal Lenihan "treated us like kids".
In an illustrious career Dawson's greatest moment came in the final of the 2003 World Cup when he fed Jonny Wilkinson to drop the winning drop-goal in the last minute. An open-top bus parade followed and he also received an MBE .
In 2004 he moved to Wasps and won the Premiership with the London outfit but the following year he was usurped by Harry Ellis as the England scrum-half. In 2006 Dawson announced he was retiring from rugby altogether and is now a captain on A Question of Sport. He finished second to Mark Ramprakash in Strictly Come Dancing the same year and is now a radio commentator for the Six Nations.