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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Courtney Lawes big tackle on Wasps flyhalf Nicky Robinson

During the RWC England's Courtney Lawes picked up a two week ban for a bit of overzealous play against Argentina. The incident was preceded with a huge hit that some felt was borderline illegal. This hit is similar in nature, but he got it spot on.

Lawes has gained somewhat of a reputation for smashing his way around the park. The athletic lock is a machine in the loose, a great lineout forward, and thrives on the physical side of things. He makes no secret about the fact that he loves putting in big hits, and he does it regularly. 

Against Wasps the Saints lock demolished flyhalf Nicky Robinson as he put a sneaky kick through. Lawes read it well and if you watch carefull you can see that he comes from a few meters back, building up a good head of steam before launching his 6ft7 frame into the number ten.

"I'm not a dirty player and I don’t go out to play dirty, I don’t bother with fighting and stuff anymore, just crack on with my game," he said recently.

"I live on the edge and I want to make big hits and I do my best to stay on the right side of the referee, sometimes I'm going to slip up and make a mistake like last week (referring to a yellow card) - it's going to happen - but I'm just going to play my heart out for the team."

He also smashed Hugo Southwell later in the game, leaving Southwell on the turf for a bit too.

"His workrate for a second rower is phenomenal. I can't think of any second row in the world that covers as much ground as him, and makes as many influential, positive hits," said Austin Healey.

One of the most exciting young talents in world rugby, he'll be around for Saints and England for some time to come, and will turn out for Saints in the Heineken Cup this coming weekend. Have a look at the related posts below to see more of the good and bad of Lawes in action.

Posted at 2:53 pm | 31 comments

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Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 31 comments

Gungehammer November 09, 2011 5:39 pm

50/50 that the ref would whistle this as he does lead a little with his shoulder. He then joins the next ruck from the side ... He does like to live on the edge! Small change to his technique would mean less chance of ref blowing him up - definitely one to watch for the England's future.

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Full Back November 09, 2011 7:28 pm

but you should lead with your shoulder, the important thing is to have your arm out and ready to wrap not flexed up for a shoulder charge. I don't get what people mean when they say lead with your shoulder in these cases, what should you lead with? Neck? Biceps?..makes no sense

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Gungehammer November 09, 2011 9:02 pm

You are spot on, but generally when people say "lead with the shoulder" they are referring to a shoulder charge.

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RedYeti November 09, 2011 5:41 pm

Great run from Artemyev at the end there, but brilliant defence from Wade too. Lots of exciting wingers in the Prem now

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beerholder November 09, 2011 6:06 pm

But the pass at 0:22 was forward, IMO.

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Rugbydump November 09, 2011 6:15 pm

I meant to mention that in the write up - very good run. Exciting player

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TechnoMouse November 09, 2011 5:44 pm

Love watching Lawes smash people (when he does it legitimately anyway). Also a Saints fan, really impressed with Artemyev so far! Hoping him and Ashton continue racking up the tries.

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Colombes November 09, 2011 6:30 pm

2 great hits in 30 seconds.
Lawes is very often borderline, but here, his tackle was perfectly timed.
didn't know artemyev, a quite good runner

ps: austin healey has Lawes posters in his bedroom? ;)

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johndoe November 09, 2011 7:13 pm

Artemyev will be a world class player. Mark my words. The only thing that will limit him is playing for Russia, as of right now not a great rugby nation (in coming years this may well change). He could have played for Ireland if his parents moved with him.

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BuzzKillington November 09, 2011 8:20 pm

A beautiful tackle, Lawes always goes law and leaves his feet, something many men of his height struggle to do.

However, it's absolutely illegal. He made 0 attempt to wrap. That's the old throw the arms up trick, we all know it. Put your arms by your side and simultaneously throw them into the air while tackling. Brian Lima was a master at doing it.

If Robinson side-stepped Lawes you would see clearly how pathetic it was an attempt to wrap. Usually though when you make contact is looks okay, to those who've never played Rugby.

This Lawes tackle is much more malicious than the one Paul Williams of Samoa made in the World Cup! Courtney needs to thank his lucky stars that he isn't a Polynesian, Rugby fans would be crying blue murder if he was.

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stroudos November 09, 2011 9:23 pm

Buzz, did someone hack your RD log-in? This comment seems to be the complete opposite of the views you usually post on tackling. Disagree completely with your analysis of this tackle, which in my opinion is superb in technique, timing and execution.

Looks to me like you're simply playing devil's advocate. Or trying to spoil the mood of celebration of a fine tackle. You're being a bigger buzzkill than Buzz Killington. *groan*.

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BuzzKillington November 09, 2011 9:35 pm

I am playing Devils Advocate in a sense, in that I love this tackle and would be happy if it was legal. But it was - by the letter of the law - illegal.

I don't see how people can celebrate what's quite clearly an illegal tackle. There is no attempt to wrap, just the throwing upwards of the arms.

The same people who praise this turn around and sulk at players like Paul Williams for making huge tackles.

I'm just mirroring the hypocrisy mate ;) I do love this tackle, was a scorcher. But by the letter of the law it's definitely illegal, so I'm surprised the usual "ban him for life" brigade are praising it!

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stroudos November 10, 2011 11:08 am

Are you referring to Paul Williams's tackle on the Namibian bloke in the world cup? That was a beautiful tackle. As the man himself said, "if they want to stop that type of tackle, I'm not sure I want to play the game any more".

A short while ago, you posted a load of links to rugby league shoulder-charges. They illustrated very clearly the distinction between what is a no-arms tackle and what isn't. This Lawes tackle definitely fits in the latter category.

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Troll Hunter November 10, 2011 11:47 am

Come on Stroudos, don't feed the Trolls. They go away if we all ignore them

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BuzzKillington November 10, 2011 2:53 pm

I disagree. While the videos I linked to are of course illegal, and certainly different to this tackle -- In that the League clips are out and out shoulder charges, with no attempt to hide that fact -- that doesn't make this tackle legal.

The laws state that you have to make an attempt to wrap, ala Williams v Namibia - A prime example of a player making an attempt to wrap, even if he didn't succeed in wrapping up the Namibian. But Lawes, quite clearly, makes no attempt to wrap.

The only difference between this Lawes tackle and a League shoulder charge is that Lawes throws his arms up to feign a wrap. But in reality, Lawes isn't making any legitimate attempt to wrap. Both are illegal.

What's your position on this tackle. Do you seriously think that Courtney made a legitimate attempt to wrap Robinson?

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Pretzel November 10, 2011 4:24 pm

I'm with Buzz, I don't believe this whole "he hit him so hard he bounced off" stuff.... I too would wish this was "LEGAL" but by letter of the law that was a lousy attempt to wrap so I too initially thought "Illegal"....

and ofcourse... had he been Polynesian it would have been a yellow I'm sure!

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Michael November 09, 2011 8:28 pm

I'll second the associated winger comment. Artemyev has looked a classy little player upon stepping up to this level week in week out. Lets hope he serves as a bit of a beacon for his countries young players as does Mamuka Gorgodze for Georgia. Even just one or two players of that class in a team can make them a nuisance to play against and create real contests at international level, i.e. Parisse single handedly keeping Italy in the contest when they've gone a tad AWOL.

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AK-NZ November 09, 2011 10:15 pm

Awesome hit, it was perfectly timed and was very effective. The following passage of play was brilliant too, nice runs and passes - except for that slightly forward one ;) - and a lovely try-saver at the end.

In regard to what Buzz is talking about, I agree to an extent. The attempt at wrapping was poor at best, and it is clear Lawes' first intention was to simply make a huge hit, which he did. A number of these tackles do get punished. I recall Rene Ranger in last year's Tri Nations being pinged for a similar tackle, although his looked more dangerous than Lawes'. I think an argument can be made for hitting the player so hard that they bounce back before a proper wrap can be made. But I do think Lawes is a bit lucky because his attempt was poor and he could have easily been penalised because of it.

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WelshSheep November 09, 2011 10:20 pm

Cracking hit, but nearly all his massive hits are on scrum halfs or outside halfs!
Dont get me wrong Lawes is a superb athlete, there isnt many locks with his pace!

He's not the total package yet but will no doubt be a lion some day :D

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WelshSheep November 09, 2011 10:20 pm

Cracking hit, but nearly all his massive hits are on scrum halfs or outside halfs!
Dont get me wrong Lawes is a superb athlete, there isnt many locks with his pace!

He's not the total package yet but will no doubt be a lion some day :D

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johndoe November 10, 2011 12:01 am

It's kind of hard to judge "wrapping". All calls are difficult to make at full speed, but judging how a player wraps is hard. Firstly, there's obviously the high speed. Secondly, given how close to the body the arms are to the other players' body, the ref might not be able to see them clearly. Thirdly, it is hard for a referee to judge to what degree a tackler intended to wrap. A referee can't see all the small things, the shoulder positioning, the tension in the arm / shoulder muscles, etc.

As far as I know, the wrapping rule was a move of safety to prevent shoulder charges, etc. on tackled players. If the call is marginal and the tackled player is safe, then there's no need to penalise these kind of things. That's up to the ref I guess.

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Surhud November 10, 2011 2:56 am

Surely the tackles illegal. The arms are not wrapped around. Its good for an American Football tackle but not a Rugby tackle.

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TestJohn November 10, 2011 8:55 am

Huge hit!

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Boomtown November 10, 2011 11:59 am

Surprised to hear some say they think this is illegal. He made an attempt to grasp the player and all that.

I think its not good to overanalyse these things so much. Great tackle.

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BuzzKillington November 10, 2011 3:03 pm

No he didn't. He made absolutely no attempt to grasp, none what so ever. If you attempt to grab or grasp somebody you tighten up the muscles in your arms and wrap your arms round. The fact Lawes arms are so clearly straight, loose and that he doesn't tense them is evidence that there was no attempt to wrap. To my knowledge Lawes has bones and muscles in his arms, they're not made of jelly!

He merely threw his arms up for aesthetic reasons.

By all means this is a fantastic tackle and it should be allowed, but don't say he makes an attempt to wrap Nicky up because that's just bulls**t, frankly.

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felix November 11, 2011 9:03 am

BK - if you are going to repeatedly say things like 'the letter of the law' then it would be wise to actually read the irb laws and not quote made up ones.
well done boomtown for finally mentioning the key point - 'attempt to grasp'. This IS the letter of the law. All this talk of 'wrapping' is totally irrelevant as there is no requirement within the laws to 'wrap' or 'attempt to wrap' the arms during a tackle - this is just what commentators and pundits have fooled people into thinking.
In this case, Lawes clearly hits hard with his left clavicle (i use the anatomically correct term for the underlying bone that he makes contact with as shoulder is too generic). Lawes left arm is flung forward more by momentum than anything else. this on its own would be illegal as there is no 'attempt to grasp' with the left hand. However, i believe his right hand makes this tackle legal as there is an 'attempt to grasp' here. view the video from 0.44 - 0.50 seconds and you can see this clearly. Indeed his right hand remains in contact with the player and therefore i would even go so far as to say that he has more than 'attempted to grasp' and has successfully 'grasped'.

sadly lawes has some great physical attributes but suffers from pierre spies syndrome - he makes a couple of big tackles per game and then goes missing for long periods. Pierre has managed to cure himself and now has a much better work rate so it's possible but Lawes wont be anywhere near international class until he literally doubles his work rate to match the likes of brad thorn, lionel nallet, james horwill and even luke charteris more recently.

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IrishRef November 10, 2011 12:09 pm

great tackle. but as someone said, he joins the next ruck clearly from the side and what about that incredible forward pass that put the russian free?

great defending tackle by the wasps winger: not just to stop him but to keep him on his feet long enough to get him into touch. Great technique!

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pierre lesage November 10, 2011 4:25 pm

Who is the runt n° 7 who chucks the ball away into the crowd - that should be a yellow, à la Ben Youngs in the 6N

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HeavyHooker November 11, 2011 3:10 pm

It is a cracking great hit and as Felix states, he does have one arm wrapped. What is something to note is this is not how I would show my son how to hit because his head is across his body which makes it look like a left shoulder charge when in fact had he not crossed the body and lead with the right shoulder and his right arm would have been a clear wrap.
May I say to all on this discussion, that this is some of the best banter I have seen in a long time. Little ranting, little name calling; just good rugby pub banting. Great going everyone. Let's keep it up.

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Sharkboi November 29, 2011 6:35 pm

Lawes Really need to sort out his tackling, big hits are good and all but the manner in which Lawes does it is too often leading to people getting injured. If he doesnt he will most likely send a player or two the way of Kobus Engelbrecht (R.I.P.) or Matt Hampson and ruin their career or possibly even worse. in my opinion the RU and IRB have been to lenient with him i.e. the two week ban during the world cup(he got off easy because he was a big player on a team that was expected to go far). They need to impose harsher bans on him to encourage him to tackle safer or he will cause a serious incedent.

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