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Marler: No trophy for 'finesse' at World Cup

SPOTLIGHT: People do not remember how you played, they only remember whether or not you win the World Cup.

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Those are the sentiments of England prop Joe Marler as he defended his team’s pragmatic brand of rugby at this year’s World Cup.

England headed to the World Cup at the back of a horrendous season, recording a shocking defeat to Argentina and Fiji.

They managed to overturn their fortunes and bagged wins over Argentina (27-10) and Japan (34-12) in the pool stages of the 2023 showpiece in France.

The Red Roses failed to score a try against Argentina. Flyhalf George stepped up to take a scrappy game by the scruff of the neck, kicking every single one of England’s points, including three drop-goals and six penalties in the win.

Against Japan, it was another structured display in which England was subjected to some loud booing from their own supporters at Stade de Nice.

The side also came under loads of scrutiny via social media with former France flank Olivier Magne stating this “English is ugly – no desire, no joy, no consistency. It’s a repulsive rugby.”

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Speaking to reporters at the mixed zones, outspoken Marler reminded all that there is no trophy for ‘finesse’ at World Cups.

“Why do you have to finesse it? You’ve just got to win, haven’t you? What did England do 20 years ago? They found a way to win in the World Cup,” prop Marler said.

“We’ll keep trying and taking the lessons from each game. We’ll take the lessons and we’ll keep trying to finesse.

“Ultimately it’s about the win. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves at all. You’ll get the same boring cliché from me that we’ll take one game at a time. We’ll rest up and then play a padel [Mexican paddle sport] tournament and then we’ll look to Chile on Tuesday.”

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Marler said England’s team in 2003 had their own style and it worked, as they became the only Northern Hemisphere side to date to win the World Cup. And he also points to how the Springboks won the 2019 showpiece after losing their pool match against New Zealand.

“[The 2003 group] went a couple of phases, Jonny [Wilkinson] slotted some penalties and some drop goals.

“They won ugly, a lot of that tournament we won ugly but we don’t talk about that now, do we? We talk about them winning the World Cup. You forget about how you did it. You don’t talk about South Africa getting pumped in the first game against New Zealand, you talk about them pumping us in the Final and then lifting the trophy.”

When asked about his bizarre assist which saw the ball bounce off his head and found its way to Courtney Lawes for a try during the win over Japan, Marlet said: “Well, it’s just what I’ve been practising for, these moments.”

He added: “I’ve been practising today with Dan Cole and Jamie George in activation. I took great inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi’s mighty Seagulls doing a demolition job on United, which is my son’s team.

“Four Premier League wins in a row over Manchester United.”

England will take on Chile on Saturday.

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