Joe Marler has joked that he was inspired by Brighton’s win over Manchester United when he provided a bizarre header assist in England’s win over Japan.
Captain Courtney Lawes capitalized on a fortuitous rebound from Marler’s bounce, collecting the loose ball and diving under the posts for a crucial second try.
England later scored two more goals to secure a victory with 34:12 bonus points.
Although the ball flew forward as it bounced straight off Marler’s head, it was not knocked off, and as Lawes was in an offside position at the time of contact, the attempt was confirmed by the televised match referee.
England have been practicing football regularly at this tournament, including during Saturday’s captain’s run, and Marler joked afterwards that the hard work had been worth it.
“That’s exactly what I’ve been practicing for, those moments,” Marler said. “I practiced it today with Dan Cole and Jamie George – in the activation we practiced our headers.
“I took great inspiration from Robert De Zerbi’s mighty Seagulls when I was doing a job of destruction at my son’s team, United. Four Premier League games in a row. Only three teams in Premier League history have beaten Man United in four Premier League games in a row: Brighton, Man City and Liverpool.
“But [Brighton have] I haven’t won anything yet, folks – and that brings us back to normal, because we haven’t won anything yet. We’ve had two good wins, one in different circumstances, and now we’re on to the next one.”
England sit top of Group D after their first two games and next face Chile in Lille on Saturday before facing Samoa in the city two weeks later.