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'Chaos': Lawes sheds light on the social that ended 2 England careers

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England’s 2019 World Cup training camp in Italy had a lasting impact on the squad, but not necessarily one that then-head coach Eddie Jones desired just weeks before the tournament.

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Jones’ gruelling camp in northern Italy involved an infamous bust-up between Mike Brown and Ben Te’o that resulted in neither being selected in an England squad again, let alone donning the white jersey.

Both Brown and Te’o have given their version of events in the subsequent years, but there has not been much context around that fateful night that ended both of their England careers.

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The two players who organised that social, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs, recently described how the evening unfolded and how the “horrific” training camp led to the players going “f*****g ballistic” at the social.

Now no longer involved with England having both retired from international rugby after the World Cup last year, Lawes and Youngs explained how their good idea for a team social descended into pandemonium.

“I won’t talk about the fight, but I planned that social,” Lawes said as a guest on Youngs’ and Dan Cole’s podcast For the Love of Rugby.

“I just remember Treviso was horrific. It was like 35 degrees, 80 or 90 per cent humidity and we were getting hosed by the coaches.

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“So we were having sessions, then we were doing this horrific fitness before the sessions, and then we’d have to do the session. Nobody could move.

“So we had this mad, long, awful week and me and Lenny [Ben Youngs] were part of the leadership team and we were like ‘why don’t we have a social? Why don’t we ask Eddie?’

“So we went to Eddie, ‘Eddie, I think we should have a social,’ and he was like ‘good mate, fantastic.’

“So we organised this social and we thought it would be a great time. And we get there and everyone goes f*****g ballistic. Everyone. I was like ‘What is happening?’ I was like ‘I’m on the chopping block here lads, please.’

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“It was absolute chaos.

“It all kicked off, things happened and then next day on the bus, Eddie got up and peppered us, absolutely peppered us from the front of the bus.

England went on to reach the World Cup final a few weeks later, putting in arguably the greatest performance in their history against the All Blacks in the semi-final.

Though Brown and Te’o may disagree, the Leicester Tigers scrum-half said how this social had a positive effect on the team.

“In a weird way, that totally galvanised the team,” he said. “And it’s absolutely bonkers. It was a big blowout by the group, we all needed it and some things happened, we won’t talk about it, but it actually brought the group together in the most bizarre way.”

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