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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 12:27 GMT
Still on top of the world

By Matt Dawson
England scrum-half

It is now a week since we lifted the World Cup, but I'm still not sure if it is sinking in yet.

I suppose when you spend Sunday morning being interviewed on Breakfast with Frost and BBC Radio Five Live you start to realise just how much people care about what we have done.

I have had a great week. It's been crazy, but I've enjoyed every single minute.

The plane journey and welcome home at Heathrow were amazing, followed by a couple of days with my girlfriend Joanne and my benefit dinner on Thursday.

I had a huge party for 700 people at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.

We had the trophy there and a load of the players came down. The place was absolutely rocking.

Matt Dawson and partner Joanne at the International Rugby Board awards
I'm not going to start pretending to be a Hollywood superstar

I did a lunch with Lawrence Dallaglio on Friday which raised lots of money for charity and in the evening I went out to Nobu for a bite to eat with Joanne.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start pretending to be a multimillion-pound Hollywood superstar parading around in his limousine every day.

I'm Matt Dawson, a rugby player, and I want that to continue.

But I've worked really hard over the last few years.

I could quite easily have got my head down and gone straight back into the rugby, as some of the lads have done, but I needed a release.

When it comes to Tuesday, though, I will be straight back to work at Northampton.

The club has done brilliantly this season. We are desperate to be successful in Europe and I want to be a part of that.

As for defending the World Cup in four years' time, it is too early to start thinking about that now.

Over the next two or three years players from the current side will probably start to retire, but it will be a natural progression.

I will not be looking that far ahead. Four years is too far away.

First I want to enjoy the fact that we've won the World Cup, and then concentrate on getting back to action.

And be in no doubt, Northampton will be getting just as much focus as I gave England in Australia.

Our World Cup victory has taken the bar up to new heights for English rugby, and hopefully we can sustain that in the next few years.

I think it could really help kick things off for the domestic game.

We would never try and compete with football, but there is definitely scope for an increase in poplularity, and we could not have done more to help that.

Pretty much every Zurich Premiership ground, and probably those in the lower divisions too, was packed out on Saturday.

We've always asked how we can pack Twickenham with 75,000 fans for England matches but have only a few club grounds that are full every week.

But now there is a real fever around the country, for sport in general and rugby in particular.

It is up to the players and management to do all we possibly can to make sure it is not just a two or three-month thing and that it carries on into the future.

Youngsters are going to look at the people at the top of the tree, and we can proudly say we are world champions. Hopefully they will want to emulate that one day.





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