Courtney Lawes gives his take on England teammates' notorious celebrations
There were plenty of aspects of England’s game that were put under the microscope during August, but one of the most heavily criticised areas was not part of their playing style at all.
Like it or loathe it – and plenty have fallen into the latter’s camp – but England’s overexuberant celebrations were much-discussed over the World Cup warm-ups, and many of the forwards carried that energy and enthusiasm into the opener against Argentina at the Stade Velodrome. England captain Courtney Lawes seems to appreciate this attitude though, saying how it “lifts” the team as they came away 27-10 victors in trying circumstances.
Context is key, however, for plenty of spectators. Screaming for joy at the sight of a not straight lineout while comfortably losing to Ireland in a warm-up was deemed excessive by many, but whooping and hollering every penalty as a 14-man England edged further and further away from Argentina to seal an odds-defying World Cup win has not been met with the same derision.
The context has not been a concern of England’s though, as they more or less played and conducted themselves against Argentina in the same way they did throughout the warm-ups, only better. That of course includes their NFL-style celebrations, which are typically led by the Saracens contingent in the pack.
After England’s win, Lawes addressed these infamous celebrations, saying: “I think we’ve got a few players that like to celebrate things. Boys celebrate things in different ways. I like to reserve my energy for other things, but it lifts us.”
But players can lift a team in different ways, and the blindside flanker noted the contribution of players like Manu Tuilagi, whose forceful midfield display had an equally uplifting effect. “I think the things that really get the team going is when boys step up and do the tough jobs really well,” Lawes said. “Like Manu stepping up, hitting hard, running hard, those kind of things. They’re the kind of things that really lift the team, and then the boys will get energy from that.”
This approach from the likes of Ben Earl and Maro Itoje can be a two pronged attack when it works. Not only can it stimulate your own team, but it can start to get under the skin of the opposition. Argentina’s discipline spiraled out of control in Marseille as the match progressed, and their raucous opponents may have contributed to that by erupting at every mistake they made.
England take on Japan next Sunday in Nice, and though their celebrations have quite a polarising effect, it is clear they are here to stay.
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