England reaction (Ludlam, Marler, Chessum, Itoje, Ford, captain Lawes, head coach Borthwick)

England reaction (Ludlam, Marler, Chessum, Itoje, Ford, captain Lawes, head coach Borthwick)


Lewis Ludlam, number eight

On the England performance:

"I don’t think we were 100 per cent with our performance. There are heaps there we can work on. But ultimately it is a great win for us as they are a fantastic side.

"It was a very different type of game to last week [against Argentina]. They made us work for our points, they made us run in the right areas of the pitch. We had to scramble at times and we were lucky that we were good enough to keep them out."

On the second half having more fluency:

"Naturally as the game goes on a little bit more space opens up. The lads who came off the bench for us were fantastic in getting us to go forward."

On if England are where they want to be in tournament:

"Results-wise maybe, performance-wise there are things to work on."

On scoring England’s first try of Rugby World Cup 2023:

"I didn’t realise it was the first one. Good to get on the scoresheet and good for the confidence. I think we could have sneaked one earlier if we’d kept the ball, but it’s always nice to get on the scoresheet."

On getting a bonus point:

"That’s massive for us. That extra point can go a long way in the later stages of the tournament. You never know when it is going to come in handy."

Joe Marler, loose-head prop

On being told commentator Ben Kay described his ‘header’ for Courtney Lawes’ try as his best try assist of his career:

"It's my only assist, isn't it?

"I mean, I also haven't ever scored a try. I hold the English record for most caps without a try."

On whether he knew it was a try: 

"I had no idea, if I’m honest, I didn’t know where I was. But it was planned. I've been practising my headers in activation with Dan Cole and Jamie George.

"I took a lot of inspiration from the mighty Seagulls - Brighton and Hove Albion - doing a demolition job on [Manchester] United, my son's team [Brighton beat United 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday]. So I took inspiration from them and brought it into tonight's game and I just found a way."

On how England managed to break away from Japan in the second half:

"Once we actually managed to keep hold of the ball and not drop it, we were able to build some more pressure. But we knew that Japan would never give up. They live by their name of the Brave Blossoms. They just keep going."

Ollie Chessum, second row

On making it two wins out of two at Rugby World Cup 2023:

"We’re happy with that. Tournament rugby, World Cup rugby, is about winning games. You have to win games and we’re happy with that. There are things we have to work on.

“We will take the learnings from tonight, apply them this week in training and take that into the game against Chile, which we’re looking forward to."

Maro Itoje, second row

On England's performance:

"Japan are a tough team and they took a while to crack. They played a style of rugby that is very exciting and they are a tough, well-coached team so it took us a while to break them down. But we did.

"Our discipline was better than it was last week. It’s another step in the right direction for us.

"In the second half there was a lot more fluency in our performance. They had taken a while to break down.

"The conditions were difficult and it was difficult to keep your hands on the ball. We just had to deal with it."

On getting two wins out of two:

“We’re happy with our start. As always there are things to improve but we will move forward in a positive way."

George Ford, fly-half

On Japan:

“Massive congratulations to Japan on the performance. We knew they would come with a tactical plan, which caused us many problems, but I’m proud of the way the boys stuck at what was our plan.

"Getting the bonus point in those conditions, we’re really happy."

On two wins out of two:

"It’s a good start, but it’s only a start. We want to build momentum, win games. We’ve gone back-to-back now and we want to do that again next week.

"We’re not in a position to look beyond the next game. We have got Chile next week so it’s another opportunity to have another great week. Then we’ll have a few days down.

"Our aim is to focus on the here and now and that means Chile."

On which Japan players impressed him:

"I was impressed with the way they caused a bit of chaos with little kicks from the 9 and 10 – chips over the top – and defensively they were very good. The whole team put lots of pressure on us."

On his left-footed kick for Freddie Steward’s try:

"We practise a lot. When you’ve got Freddie Steward who is tall and can finish, we just need to put it in the right areas for him and thankfully it came off."

On if the performance against Japan was better than against Argentina:

"It was good in different ways and there was some improvement from us tonight. But you can’t underestimate how difficult it is to play in those conditions.

"It doesn’t look like it from the TV or the stands but I promise you it’s very difficult. It was sweaty and clammy and you have got to be really clever in the way you play and more often than not we made the right decision."


Steve Borthwick, head coach

On the performance:

"The players did tremendously well to get the result. In the end the players found a way. In these conditions it's challenging. The Japan team kicked the ball 37 times today. When does Japan do that?

"The players found a way of scoring four tries. We felt that last quarter was where we needed to accelerate and the boys did that."

On the Japan team:

"The Japan team tonight played what I thought was incredibly smart and unorthodox rugby. The use of the attacking kick, kicks over the ruck, kicks behind the defensive line, Ive not seen Japan use it to that extent and I thought they did that tremendously well.

"There were a couple of bounces of the ball that we had to fight very hard for. It's a very good Japanese team, they are clearly very well coached."

On only having nine months as head coach to prepare for the World Cup:

"I think that having the full coaching team together for this summer has been an opportunity for us to work as hard as we can to make ground quickly.

"You've seen strides in some of the fundamental aspects of the game. You've seen growth in our attack. It's always the way that you build the fundamentals through defence, your kicking game, your set-piece and your breakdown, and the attack always takes the longest to come because it takes cohesion.

"Some [coaching] teams have had eight years with the same coaching team to build through that and we’ve had three or four months with our full coaching team in place.

"We're working exceptionally hard every day to move forward."

On whether perceptions of the England team might change with the two wins in two games at Rugby World Cup 2023:

"That’s never been my opinion of the team. I believe I've got a group of players, led by a man next to me [Courtney Lawes], who know what it is to perform on the big stage.

"We still have a lot of growth in us. Players of quality are going to start coming back. Owen Farrell becomes available next week. Tom Curry will become available the following week. I said the team is preparing for the tournament, they have immense quality throughout it, they want to perform on the biggest of stages and the boys showed that tonight."

On the problem of Owen Farrell's return from suspension coinciding with George Ford playing so well:

"You describe it as a problem. I describe it as a fantastic squad of players that I have the privilege to work with, strength in depth across the squad. I think a lot of countries would look on it in an envious manner.

"We build towards Chile next Saturday. I expect there to be another huge English contingent in the crowd. Those supporters out there were outstanding. We are very fortunate to have them.

Courtney Lawes, flanker and captain

On being assisted by a fortuitous header by Joe Marler for his try:

"It was a good bit of luck for us in these conditions. I saw it ricochet off his head. I was pretty sure it had gone backwards and then came off his head. I had a good idea it was going to get given."

On the conditions:

"You can feel the ball spinning out your hands even before you’ve made contact. It’s hot, humid, it makes for a wet-weather game . 

"I think we showed in glimpses how good our attack can be. Hopefully late on in the competition we'll be firing on all cylinders."


George Ford, Mastercard Player of the Match

On his thoughts on the game:

"We're just really happy with another win tonight. We knew it was going to be a tough game. They're a great team, Japan, they challenge you in different ways.

"We knew it wouldn't be until the third or fourth quarter until we could potentially pull away a bit. I'm just over the moon to get another win. Some improvements tonight, some things to get better at still."

On what he thought of the performance:

"It was probably not the prettiest watching it. It's really hard to play with the ball in these conditions. These late kick-offs, the ball is greasy. You've got to find ways to break a team down but we got there in the end."

Courtney Lawes, flanker and captain

On the hard-fought contest:

"Full credit to Japan. We knew they were going to put up a fight and they certainly did that. The conditions are probably not as good as they look. It's so greasy out there. The boys did well, we came away with five points so you can't ask for much more."

On thanking Joe Marler for his assist in the try, when the ball bounced off his head:

"I thanked him. A bit of luck - sometimes it falls in your favour. I'll take it."

On the team perhaps playing with more freedom:

"We wanted to play some good rugby tonight. Conditions were pretty tough to move the ball in but you saw in parts what we can do. We'll continue to work at it and hopefully by the time it comes to the quarter-finals we'll be able to stick it. We'll need to."

Steve Borthwick, head coach

On two wins from two:

"I'm really pleased for the players. I'm really pleased for the supporters here tonight. We've got a fantastic travelling support and they spend an awful lot of money to follow this team and we want to make sure they have good nights.

"Tonight it was really tough, we got a bonus point so we're really pleased with that."

On decisions to make with Owen Farrell available and George Ford being man of the match twice:

"How great is it that we have such incredible depth in quality there? I think a lot of countries would want the quality we've got - at 10 and 15. Marcus [Smith] came on and was brilliant in that last quarter."

On what's next:

"The next step for the players is to enjoy this win because they worked hard for it - and the supporters will enjoy the win. We play Chile in six days' time so we'll recover, get a great plan and we'll look forward to playing them."

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