Home Money Matt Dawson tells ME & MY MONEY: ‘I was a rugby star – but now I spend an awful lot on golf!’

Matt Dawson tells ME & MY MONEY: ‘I was a rugby star – but now I spend an awful lot on golf!’

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Team player: Matt Dawson as England scrum-half in 2005

Team player: Matt Dawson as England scrum-half in 2005

Team player: Matt Dawson as England scrum-half in 2005

Matt Dawson, 51, was part of the England team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and also made his mark with the British & Irish Lions, writes Dan Moore.

He rose to prominence as scrum-half for Northampton Saints and Wasps, winning the Premiership in his first season at the London club.

Before retiring in 2006, Matt had embarked on a career in the media, serving as team captain on the hit BBC show A Question Of Sport and a regular contributor to BBC Five Live’s rugby coverage.

He is also an enthusiastic investor and runs Lemon and Lime Associates, a business development consultancy.

Matt lives in south-west London with his partner Elizabeth, their two children Alex, 12, and Sami, ten, and Elizabeth’s two daughters Isabella, 17, and Ava, 13.

What did your parents teach you about money?

When I was 14 or 15, complaining about pocket money and wanting more for clothes and going out, my mother suggested I write down what I thought I would need to survive. I posed this to my dad, adding up what he thought I would need for the year: clothes, going out with friends, haircuts, everything. She said if this was how I wanted to do it, she would accept a monthly allowance and I would receive this and not a cent more.

It didn’t go very well. I thought I had gone too far, allowed myself to spend more clothes than I needed, etc., but I was wrong. I just had no idea how much my mom and dad spent on me. This taught me the importance of budgeting.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

When I moved away from home at 18, I had very little money and was renting a house with two other rugby players. He lived on tuna pasta and mayonnaise, earned £8,000 a year and drove a beat-up Peugeot 205.

Have you ever been paid silly money?

Never fool around with money, as I have always tried to present myself as having great value. Encourage performance and compensation in other ways, such as bonuses and stock.

What was the highlight of your career?

To be part of the 2003 World Cup winning squad. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of some brilliant teams over the years (England, Lions, Wasps and Northampton), but nothing could usurp that. We all realized it would change our lives. I was already doing a bit of media work and was always interested in the corporate side of rugby, sponsorship and sports-related businesses, but the World Cup took things to a new level.

What was the best year of your financial life?

It was 2021, coming out of confinement, when it had a good presence on social networks and there was an appetite for advertising, so there were media and corporate opportunities. But it was my role as a business development consultant that took off.

What was your biggest money mistake?

Buy a holiday home in Spain and land in South Africa. I just didn’t feel like I had control over it. I was advised not to do it and invest in other areas, but my ego got the better of owning property abroad. I now prefer to invest in our six-bedroom 1930s house in south-west London.

Drive: the rugby star is crazy about golf

Drive: the rugby star is crazy about golf

Drive: the rugby star is crazy about golf

What would you have done if rugby hadn’t worked out?

Rugby was not a plan A, B or any letter of the alphabet. It wasn’t something you would make money from. I was a security guard, selling advertising for a newspaper in Milton Keynes. Then I got a job as a physical education teacher, which I really enjoyed. I would probably be a teacher if things had been different. But thanks to Sue Barker, Phil Tufnell and the team at BBC’s A Question Of Sport, we stuck with it for 15 years, giving me another career besides rugby. He was also building a corporate career that he wanted to carry into retirement.

Do you have a pension?

I’m locked and loaded when it comes to pensions, Isas and tax-efficient investments. I have a fantastic financial advisor, who I’ve known since I was 17. I have a solid, high-yielding but stable investment portfolio. I am also an angel investor. It’s a bigger risk, but I enjoy watching young companies emerge. Additionally, I am a shareholder in some companies I work for.

What is your greatest indulgence?

I’d bet good money that a high percentage of my annual excess spending goes towards golf: memberships, vacations, kit, lessons, you name it. It’s definitely my vice.

What is your top financial priority?

I’m lucky the family is happy. We like to go out to dinner and go on vacation, but we are not extravagant. I would say my goal is to maintain the standard of living that we have achieved over the last five years. If I can make it to 70 and still be able to take care of the kids, have a vacation and play golf, I will be a happy soul.

  • Matt Dawson is an ambassador for Sodexo (mindful.sodexo.com/uk), which aims to raise awareness of health and wellbeing issues.

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