Grand Slammers: England rugby legends head behind bars for ITV show

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England’s winning Rugby World Cup stars are to reunite for a special new ITV show.

Captain Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil Vickery, Jason Robinson, Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen, Mike Tindall, and Matt Dawson – all legendary figures of England Rugby World Cup triumph.

Now, after two decades, these iconic figures in England’s sports history are reuniting for an extraordinary venture in new ITV show Grand Slammers.

The players pose in a line up for a group photo, wearing white t shirts and black shorts
Grand Slammers: SR1 EP1 on ITV1 and ITVX. Pictured: Ben Cohen, Jason Robinson, Mike Tindall, Martin Johnson, Phil Vickery, Jonny Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, and Matt Dawson

What is Grand Slammers about?

Airing to coincide with this year’s Rugby World Cup exclusively on ITV, the sporting heroes will enter the confines of HMP The Mount prison. The prison, notable for its rugby pitch within the walls, will become the stage where they endeavour to build and train a team of inmates capable of rivalling the formidable Australian team.

Through this series, viewers will witness the transformative power of sports as the England legends open up to the inmates, sharing their personal stories of how rugby profoundly shaped their lives during pivotal moments and provided them with a sense of purpose.

Throughout the experience, there will be clashes, confrontations, and moments of encouragement, where the legends show how rugby can make a positive difference for each inmate. The series will depict the camaraderie, intensity, emotions, and laughter that come with being part of a unified team focused on a shared goal – outplaying the Australians.

The culmination of these episodes will showcase the legends playing side by side with the inmates they’ve trained, re-enacting the historic Rugby World Cup final from two decades ago. This time, they’ll face off against a team of Australian rugby players residing abroad.

In response to disheartening statistics revealing a 50 percent reoffending rate within a year of release, Grand Slammers aims to explore how channelling energy into team sports can positively impact prisoners’ lives while reducing their chances of reoffending post-release. The project owes its realization to the support of HMP The Mount’s governor, John Gormley, and the Ministry of Justice.

Mike Tindall
Grand Slammers: SR1 EP1 on ITV1 and ITVX. Pictured: Mike Tindall

When to watch Grand Slammers

Grand Slammers will start on ITV1 on Wednesday, 27 September at 9PM. The two-part special will continue on Thursday, 28 September at 9PM.

You’ll also be able to watch online via ITVX.

Kate Teckman, Head of Development, Factual Entertainment at ITV said: “In this new series we’ll see some of the greatest sporting heroes England has ever produced reunite on the pitch for the first time in 20 years to go into a prison and build a rugby a team with men who live their lives behind bars.

“For some of these England legends, rugby presented a positive pathway and an opportunity to fulfil their potential. So, with re-offending rates from ex-prisoners at an alarming level, these World Cup winners are engaging with young men who’ve made big mistakes to show them how the game they love can offer the possibility of taking positive steps to move forward.

“At a moment when rugby will be in the spotlight, during this autumn’s Rugby World Cup, Grand Slammers will provide a revealing insight into both England’s legends and the power of the sport that has defined so much of their lives.”

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