Why England's infamous celebrations might actually be holding them back
Whether the England team sat down one day and decided to overegg their celebratory pudding or whether it happened organically may never be known, but they surely never expected it would evoke such outcry far and wide.
The more it has become their ‘thing’, the more the England players have seemingly played up to it, and, in turn, have been questioned on it, with the general responses being that it galvanises and uplifts the team. While most of the criticism seems to be based on the fact that people find it annoying, some critics like Sir Clive Woodward have delved a little deeper and have pointed out that it hinders England’s decision-making, as winning a penalty is when players should be assessing what to do next.
But former England fly-half Danny Cipriani went a step further recently and suggested that this approach from England could actually be affecting their playing, chiefly their spluttering attack.
Saturday was only the second time under Steve Borthwick that England have managed to score four tries in a match, and they had to wait until Joe Marchant crossed the whitewash in the final play of the game to achieve that feat. Joining the Rugby World Cup 2023 Official Podcast recently, Cipriani said that England’s trademark celebrations are indicative of how they are not composed when they attack.
While it was during August that many took notice of this ploy from England, ex Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris said on the podcast that this trait has been part of this team’s DNA for a while now, saying it predates Ben Earl, who has been pinpointed as celebrator-in-chief.
“I follow Ben Earl, he is an unbelievable player,” Ferris said. “But it sort of started before Earl came into the team, it used to be Maro [Itoje]. I get it, celebrate the moments.”
Cipriani added: “When you see the way they attack, England have a lot of individually talented players but they are knocking the ball on, slightly off timing with runs, all of that stuff is happening at the moment. If you are emotionally so charged that you are like ‘yeah’, when does that ever calm down for you to make a good decision or run a good line or be involved in the game to engage in the present moment, if you are so charged up like that?
“You don’t see your [Brodie] Retallicks or [Ardie] Saveas behaving in that way because they are very calm and cool under pressure. I’m not saying there’s a right and a wrong, but you need to know your balance within that. If you’re going to be like that, you still need to have some composure to you in how you’re going to play. It can’t all be one speed, otherwise you’re not going to catch the ball.”
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