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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Courtney Lawes returns to Premiership with huge tackle on Phil Godman

England's Courtney Lawes returned to Aviva Premiership rugby with a bang this past weekend, making his presence felt with a few trademark tackles, including this belter on Phil Godman. He admitted post match that he was pleased to make some big hits. 

Northampton Saints, despite still missing some international players, beat Newcastle Falcons 18-0 at Franklin's Gardens, with Lawes in more of a senior role this season, particularly at the lineouts. 

He's said that it's quite different to get accustomed to Premiership life again, after the highs of playing Test rugby and being in camp with England for the last month or so.

"It's quite tough to come from the tough international games straight back into the Premiership, hard to get your head round it. It's different. There's so much pressure on you (with England), then you're relieved of that pressure and it's hard to keep yourself mentally focused enough to put in a good performance," he said.

"I worked really hard to get myself motivated this week. I thought I played solid with some good carries, didn't make any mistakes, pressured the 10 and made some good hits."

Newcastle's Phil Godman was on the end of one of the biggest hits of the game, as Lawes used that quick line speed - never more evident than in the huge preseason hit he made against Bedford - to get up and terrorise the flyhalf with a trademark tackle.

This is a short clip, but worth sharing and adding to the growing archive of tackles from one of the most athletic second-rowers in international rugby today. There's more in the related posts below.

Posted at 9:36 am | 21 comments

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Posted in Big Hits & Dirty Play

Viewing 21 comments

Murina November 28, 2013 12:46 pm

And so the comments about him being a one-trick pony, comme Chabal...

But there's no question his all-round game has improved and he did not look out of place against the ABs. His line-out jumping, his timing of his runs (no headless chicken) and his ability to be around the park in a second, makes him a real asset. Less penalties as well, due to the above. He may not be a McCaw but he's certainly becoming a world class lock.

Oh, and great tackle. The ball was away, but tackles like that help put seeds of doubt into No. 10's mind.

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poldybloom3 December 02, 2013 6:00 pm

I agree with you regarding Lawes being an improved player , but I still think he has a nasty streak in him ;he makes more than his share of late tackles .I know Rugby is a tough game and there is a fine line between "abrasive" and "dirty " but I think Lawes is often on the wrong side of that line .Pity,He's very athletic and quite skilful but I think there is a dark side to him ,like Martin Johnson .

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matt December 02, 2013 6:48 pm

I think there is a relentless aggression there, but the worst thing you can say about any of his tackles is that they are poorly timed/slightly (if at all) late. There is never a case of a swinging arm, or a shoulder charge or high shots. He hits things, and he hits them hard and as often as he can.
I think he is the perfect illustration of the difference between aggressive physicality and the types of dangerous or cynical play that people often defend with 'it's a passionate contact sport'.

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AJ_Capote November 28, 2013 1:10 pm

This is fantastic. I used to be a bit anxious about seeing Lawes in the first team for England, I thought he was a big basher but also prone to being dim and giving away penalties - especially when played in the back row. But he's really upped his game this season, and to keep Parling out of the team is impressive. It's good to have a proper muscular second row back, Launchbury and Parling are both excellent lineout locks but Lawes adds muscles and big hits.

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DanW November 28, 2013 1:10 pm

Godman is awful says it all when the falcons are recruiting their 10s from the championship. No way on earth should he be in the premiership

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asdf423 November 28, 2013 1:29 pm

what a surprise, another courtney lawes hit where the guy doesn't have the ball any more

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DanKnapp November 28, 2013 2:01 pm

Booooring. Perfectly legal hit. He has good line speed to get up and make the hits on the #10 so quickly. He forces the players to make a quick pass and they often botch it. The fact that he forces them is a strength of his game. He is totally committed to the tackle, and it's completely fine.

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Jamie Dorman November 28, 2013 2:02 pm

My problem with Lawes is that I cannot remember him putting in a big hit against a big player. No big Bakkies Botha-like hits or even positive ones. Agains big players he can't seem to assert his dominance. All the videos of Lawes are of him smashing smallish backs, so to become a great player he needs to enforce everywhere on the pitch, not just the beginning of a backline (if that makes sense).

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dave November 28, 2013 4:40 pm

Jamie the fact that lawes is mainly tackling "little guys" is a testament to the athleticism he shows on the outside of the pitch, as an england fan it's hard not to get excited about having launchbury and lawes in the second row, with their mobility as locks it's like having 2 extra back rowers and they can also get into the grit of the tight five

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Jamie Dorman November 29, 2013 1:37 pm

Hey, I get your point dave, I think that athleticism is brilliant. However, I think that England could do with a couple more big ball carriers. That's why I'm excited by the return of Nick Kennedy who became a monster in France and bulked up a lot; he did a real number for Toulon against Sarries. I feel that Lawes could do with a couple more stone, because unlike you, I don't think he can truly get into the grit of the tight five. Imagine Lawes with the bulk of e.g. Pascal Pape, yet with his inherent athleticism, that'd be scary. He may sacrifice some of his pace, but I think it'd be worth it.

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matt November 28, 2013 5:55 pm

I think Jamie has a point. But I don't think it is a massive issue. He doesn't shy away from tackling the largest boys there, it is just difficult to make the same impact, especially tackling the way he does, i.e with momentum.

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CambridgeshireKid November 28, 2013 6:39 pm

When you are targeting the FH you tend to tackle the FH. Something tells me that he isn't going for big hits on players, just trying to make the tackle, it just happens to be big every now and again and put on the internet.

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dave November 28, 2013 4:37 pm

We could have used some of that tackling in the cardiff game

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katman November 28, 2013 7:06 pm

Boom. What a great tackle.

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The Other DanW November 28, 2013 8:13 pm

Good tackle... but Lawes never seems to get his head on the right side though!

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Canadian content November 28, 2013 10:19 pm

That's exactly what I thought when I saw the image. He survived this one, hell who is to say he didn't get a little bit shook up by it himself. Goodman lowers his shoulder a little and Lawes catches his head on it. He still probably "wins the collision" but those kind of tackles add up.

In response to doesn't smash the big guys... Do you see many big guys running across the field chipping the ball? Of course Goodman is gonna get it. Gotta be aware when this fellah is on the field. Not a great ball carrier though.

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DrG November 30, 2013 2:55 pm

Seen Victor Matfield do it...

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sg83 November 28, 2013 9:11 pm

So he's flattened another guy who didn't see him coming, big deal. It's not that hard when he doesn't know you're there! I realise he's able to do this because of his athleticism, but I think it's far more impressive watching a guy like Willem Alberts who can line up a big forward head on and still smash him backwards more often than not.

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10stonenumber10 November 29, 2013 9:17 am

Lawes plays as a 5.5 rather than a lock. Gets around the park like a backrow, smashes like a lock. There is a skill to his hits, he is running defensively from a lot deeper than the rest of the line 'coming round the corner' from a ruck, he is hard to pick up visually from that position and pace, and, well, the little guys get their ribs rearranged legally. He is an old school bully in a pack, he won't worry the oppo pack too much, but numbers 9-15 better watch out... Great to have in your team, a nightmare if he isn;t!

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Keray November 29, 2013 10:44 am

Nice hit! Loved it! But technically bad tackle.
Point out to all your juniors that his head was on the wrong side.

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10stonenumber10 November 29, 2013 1:41 pm

Lawes often hits with his head on the wrong side, a lot of the biggest hits on the try savers rib breakers have questionable technique but completely legal. When your neck is wider than your head like his is, I suppose the danger is less, but it is still pretty stupid. He has been quoted as saying he needs to work on his tackling technique, his shoulders are falling apart and he has knocked himself out more than once... Still, with a player like that. you make sure you buy them a beer after the game to stay on their good side... I'd never say he hits wrong to his face!

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