England lock Courtney Lawes has faced a backlash on Twitter for his purported response to the successful campaign by Manchester United football forward Marcus Rashford, who was victorious in lobbying the UK government to make a U-turn on plans to scrap the free school meal voucher scheme.

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Rashford had used social media to make his views known about the voucher, forcing politicians to change their minds on a scheme that will now be extended over the summer holidays after it looked destined for the scrap. Rashford took to Twitter soon after to share this message: 

England player Lawes allegedly commented, congratulating Rashford and saying: “Great win mate! You’ve done a lot for a lot of young people!”

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The 2017 British and Irish Lion then added: “Maybe now would be a good time to bring some attention to the importance of being financially secure and preferably married before having kids? This would go a long way to treating a big part of the issue.” 

The tweet on the Northampton second row’s account was subsequently deleted, but many people were quick to screenshot it and share it. 

As with so many things on Twitter these days, Lawes’ view was immediately polarising with groups either castigating the 31-year-old or defending his right to share his opinion. 

The opprobrium ranged from accusations of “snobbery” to being called “absolute scumbag” and a “moron” which were some of the milder responses amid the reams of abuse Lawes faced. 

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There were also those who called for the lock’s sponsors to drop him after these comments, as well as some using this as a springboard to start a ‘football versus rugby’ debate.  

The 82-cap England rugby international stressed that he “wasn’t aiming to offend anyone”, Lawes adding: “It was clearly just a suggestion that I genuinely thought could help. Looks like I was wrong.” 

He also mentioned that some may have missed his point, as there were plenty that construed his comments as showing disapproval or opposition to what Rashford has achieved.

Despite the response, Lawes has not shirked away from defending himself, which he may need to do for the next few days. 

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