Matt Dawson
Birth nameMatthew James Sutherland Dawson
Date of birth (1972-10-31) 31 October 1972 (age 51)
Place of birthBirkenhead, England
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight13.10 st (83.2 kg)
SchoolRGS High Wycombe
Rugby union career
Position(s) Scrum-half
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Marlow Rugby Club ()
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
London Wasps
Correct as of 13 July 2014
International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1997, 2001, 2005
British & Irish Lions
Correct as of 13 July 2014
National sevens team(s)
Years Team Comps
1993 England 7s
Official website

Matthew James Sutherland Dawson, MBE (born 31 October 1972) is an English retired rugby union player who played scrum half for Northampton Saints and then London Wasps. During his international career he toured with the British & Irish Lions three times and was part of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side. He won 77 caps for his country in total, including nine as captain and was England's most capped scrum half until passed by Danny Care.[1]

Dawson was best known for his trademark 'sniping runs' and played the whistle well, often scoring tries from 'tap and go' penalties. When called upon, he could also demonstrate his versatility by kicking goals.

Since retiring, Dawson has become a team captain on A Question of Sport besides appearing on various reality shows and is a commentator and presenter on BBC Radio 5 Live's rugby programme.[2][3] Dawson currently works as a health ambassador for Sodexo, a global food and facilities provider. In early 2014, he was appointed as director for business development at the flexible workplace company, Instant.[4]

Rugby career


Dawson joined Northampton in 1991 after leaving school and was among the last generation of players to have started their careers during the amateur era.[5] Before rugby union became openly professional in 1995 he worked as a security guard and coached at Spratton Hall School.[6][7] He formed a successful half-back partnership with Paul Grayson, winning the 2000 Heineken Cup (though he missed the final through injury)[8] and finishing runner-up in the Anglo-Welsh Cup three times. In the club's 130th anniversary poll he and Grayson were voted by fans into the all-time dream XV.[9]

In 2004, Dawson moved from Northampton to London Wasps after his contract was not renewed and won the Premiership title in his first season.[10]

On 7 April 2006, Dawson announced that he would be retiring from rugby completely at the end of the season and on 14 May 2006, he played his last game of Premiership rugby, when Sale denied Wasps their chance of winning the Premiership title four years in a row and so equalling Leicester's record.[11]


In 1993, Dawson was a member of the England Sevens team which won the inaugural Sevens World Cup in Scotland. Dawson and competition teammate Lawrence Dallaglio were the first players to win the World Cup at both the 15- and 7-a-side games.[12] Ma'a Nonu & Mils Muliaina have since repeated this feat.

Dawson made his international debut for England in December 1995, against Western Samoa, but would have to fight with Andy Gomarsall, Austin Healey but mostly Kyran Bracken for the England number 9 shirt.

Dawson went on the 1997 British Lions tour to South Africa as third-choice scrum-half behind Healey and Rob Howley, but injury to Howley and some good performances saw Dawson make the starting line-up. In the first test with ten minutes to go, Dawson broke from the base of a scrum and threw an overhead dummy that checked the four Springboks allowing him to scamper in for the winning try. That victory was the start of a 2–1 series win, clinched when he fed Jeremy Guscott for the series-winning drop goal.

Dawson captained England for the first time when he was chosen as captain for the infamous 1998 "tour from hell" in the absence of more experienced internationals.[13] Despite the disastrous results he would go on to establish himself in the starting XV. He became first-choice scrum half at the 1999 Rugby World Cup after Bracken's withdrawal due to injury and scored England's first try of the competition just eight minutes into the opening match, a 67–7 win, against Italy.[14]

He was captain in the 2000 Six Nations and often in the absence of Martin Johnson.

In the 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia, Dawson went as second-choice scrum half behind Howley. Howley played in the first two tests but was injured for the third, where Dawson played. Controversially however, Dawson was one of the mid-week sides opposed to the training regime of coach Graham Henry and publicly criticised him, although this did not cause as much stir as Healey's similar comments. He and Healey avoided being sent home but were fined by the disciplinary committee.[15] Later in the week he redeemed himself by converting Healey's try during extra time to win a closely tied match against the Brumbies.[16]

Dawson's career nearly ended after sustaining a neck injury during the record 53–3 win against South Africa in November 2002, when he was headbutted by Springbok skipper Corné Krige.[17] He became an integral part of the England side, winning his 50th cap against Ireland on the same day England won the 2003 Six Nations Grand Slam.[3] That same year he was a crucial part of the team that won the World Cup. He played a vital role in winning the final tie against Australia in Sydney on 22 November 2003. With less than a minute remaining in extra time he made a completely unexpected break gaining a vital 20 metres upfield. From the later ruck he fed the ball to Jonny Wilkinson for the winning drop goal.[18][19]

In the autumn of 2004, he failed to turn up to an England training camp due to a previously arranged commitment to appear on A Question of Sport, resulting in him being dropped from the England squad for the 2004 Autumn internationals. A return to the 2005 Six Nations was expected and Dawson rejoined the Elite Player Squad for the tournament, playing well enough to earn a place on the 2005 British Lions tour to New Zealand, managed by Sir Clive Woodward.

Dawson returned to the England fold in 2005 but had limited opportunities in a disappointing Six Nations campaign as Harry Ellis started at number nine for four of the five matches.

Media career

In 2004 Dawson joined the long running BBC TV quiz show A Question of Sport, featuring as a regular team captain opposite Ally McCoist and subsequently, Phil Tufnell.[20]

In September 2006 he appeared in BBC One's Celebrity MasterChef programme, beating Roger Black and Hardeep Singh Kohli, to win the final.

He took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2006, partnered by Lilia Kopylova. Although appearing initially to be an unlikely contender, he came second, only beaten in the final by cricketer Mark Ramprakash. He later returned to the show in 2008 to dance with Elaine Paige in Sport Relief does Strictly Come Dancing to raise money for Sport Relief, where they came second.

In January 2007 it was announced that Dawson would be joining BBC Radio Five Live as summariser for the commentary on England's forthcoming Six Nations Championship games. He went on to cover the 2007 Rugby World Cup for the BBC.[21] He also presents 5-Live's weekly Rugby show. He was recently on an edition of TV poker special where he finished second.

In 2008 Dawson co-hosted Mitch and Matt's Big Fish, a seafood lovers tour of the British coast, in which he and Mitch Tonks tasted and cooked a variety of fish dishes using the catch of the British fishing ports.

In 2010 Dawson hosted Monster Munchies for Good Food, where he challenged two teams to make a monster sized local delicacy in 24 hours, which were unveiled at a local show and were judged on size, presentation and taste. The size they were aiming for was that of a small car.

In 2023 Dawson was a contestant on Richard Osman's House of Games, alongside Malorie Blackman, Chris McCausland and Ranvir Singh.

Charitable work

Dawson is the 2013 President of children's medical research charity Sparks, whose mission is to ensure that all babies are born healthy and stay healthy. Matt attended their 2012 Winter Ball along with other supporters of the charity such as Lady Gabriella Windsor, who was in attendance in place of her mother, Sparks Royal Patron, Princess Michael of Kent. In 2015, he fronted a cycle ride for the charity from the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to Twickenham in London, 150 mile in one day.

Dawson in Johannesburg with pupils of a UNICEF-funded school.

He is an Honorary President of the rugby charity Wooden Spoon improving the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in Britain and Ireland. He posed nude in the women's magazine Cosmopolitan in support of the testicular and prostate cancer charity Everyman.

Dawson has been supporting the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) since 2004 and became a UNICEF UK ambassador in 2009. In June 2009, he took time out while broadcasting for the Lions tour in South Africa to visit UNICEF programmes focusing on education, shelter and HIV/AIDS.

He completed the 2007 London Marathon for charity, in 4 hours 35 minutes and 39 seconds.

Personal life

Born in Birkenhead, Dawson was raised in Buckinghamshire and attended the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe after passing the 12-plus (Buckinghamshire students at the time took the exam a year later).[23] While in school he excelled in cricket and football before deciding to concentrate on rugby.[24]

He was married to German-born former model, Carolin Hauskeller, and the couple have two sons. Dawson announced their separation via social media on 21 September 2020.[25] Dawson is a supporter of Everton F.C.[26][27]

Dawson published his autobiography, Nine Lives, in 2004.[28]

In 2016, Dawson revealed how his family went through "two weeks of hell" as his two-year-old son battled meningitis W135.[29]

In 2017, Dawson joined forces with The Big Tick Project, which looks to raise awareness about the dangers of ticks and tick-borne disease in the UK after revealing he had contracted Lyme disease. He was bitten by a tick in a London Park early the previous year.[30]

See also


  1. ^ "England records – Most matches by starting position". ESPN Scrum.
  2. ^ "England's Heroes: Where are they now?". ESPN Scrum. 29 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b "English Rugby's Fifty-Cap Club – Matt Dawson profile: England rugby scrum half". Daily Telegraph. 13 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Matt Dawson MBE joins Instant as director for business development". Instant Group. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Dawson happy to get his kicks off the field". The Guardian. 10 November 2005.
  6. ^ "Matt Dawson: my Saturday job". The Guardian. 2 September 2011.
  7. ^ Matt Dawson: Nine Lives. Willow Publishing. 2011. ISBN 978-0007165674.
  8. ^ "Dawson out of European final". BBC. 23 May 2000. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Dawson dominates to link up with Grayson". 29 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Leicester 14-39 Wasps". BBC. 14 May 2005. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  11. ^ "World Cup winner Dawson to retire". BBC Sport. 7 April 2006. Retrieved 5 February 2007.
  12. ^ "Sport Editors: Magnificent Sevens". BBC. 24 May 2007.
  13. ^ "Captain's call for Dawson". Bucks Free Press. 16 May 1998.
  14. ^ "Flying start for awesome England". BBC. 2 October 1999.
  15. ^ "Henderson – Lessons for the Lions". BBC Sport. 19 May 2005.
  16. ^ "Dawson's redemptive strike". Daily Telegraph. 3 July 2001.
  17. ^ "Autumns to remember". ESPN Scrum. 4 November 2010.
  18. ^ "Rugby World Cup 2011: winning half-back combinations in pictures". Daily Telegraph.
  19. ^ "How the Cup was won and lost". BBC Sport. 23 November 2003.
  20. ^ "Matt Dawson joins A Question of Sport". BBC Press Office. 10 September 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2007.
  21. ^ "Dawson joins BBC Radio Five Live". 16 January 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2007.
  22. ^ "Beating Bowel Cancer". The Official Matt Dawson website. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  23. ^ "World Cup rugby star thanks his Wycombe school". Bucks Free Press. 28 November 2003.
  24. ^ "Small Talk interview: Matt Dawson". The Guardian. 12 October 2007.
  25. ^ Green, Alex (21 September 2020). "A Question Of Sport captain Matt Dawson splits from wife after 11 years". Belfast Telegraph.
  26. ^ "Everton FC fan and former England Rugby Union star Matt Dawson tells of his love affair with the Blues". Liverpool Echo. 2 July 2011.
  27. ^ "My Sport: Matt Dawson". Daily Telegraph. 26 November 2003.
  28. ^ "Book review: Matt Dawson, Nine Lives". The Times. 15 February 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  29. ^ "Dawson's plea on meningitis petition". 18 February 2016 – via
  30. ^ Silver, Katie (21 August 2017). "Dawson's life changed by tick bite" – via
Sporting positions Preceded byTony Diprose English National Rugby Union Captain Jun–Jul 1998 Succeeded byMartin Johnson Preceded byMartin Johnson English National Rugby Union Captain Feb–Apr 2000 Succeeded byMartin Johnson Preceded byKyran Bracken English National Rugby Union Captain Oct 2001 Succeeded byNeil Back