Hardwood timber Joe Marler joked his bizarre assist, which saw the ball strike his head before England captain Courtney Lawes grounded it, was planned.
A lacklustre England sealed a 34-12 victory over Japan in Nice, with Lawes’ effort giving them some much-needed daylight in the second half.
The ball went forward but crucially hit Marler’s head, and was therefore not a knock-onCredit: ITV Sport
And Lawes took full advantageCredit: Getty
With just a point separating England and Japan, the 2003 world champions built up a promising attack which appeared to end after the ball fell forward.
The quick-thinking Lawes picked up the loose ball and grounded it under the posts, although it was ruled on the pitch there was a knock-on.
However, England captain Lawes was right to carry on playing as replays show the ball wasn’t knocked on as it struck prop Marler’s head.
After TMO looked back at the incident the try was awarded and George Ford’s subsequent conversion put them 20-12 up.
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Former England international Ben Kay labelled Marler’s header as his ‘greatest ever assist’ on commentary for ITV and fans couldn’t help but see the funny side of England’s good fortunes in Nice.
“Good header. Best thing Joe Marler has done in an England shirt [smirking face],” one fan said.
“A Joe marler header assist who would have thought [crying laughter emoji],” another added.
“Just as I was moaning about England’s lack of invention Joe Marler’s hair intervenes,” another fan said.
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They all count…Credit: Getty
Marler said his header was intentionalCredit: ITV Sport
“I’ll post something meaningful in a minute, still laughing at Joe Marler’s header,” this fan joked.
“Marler? Best header of a rugby ball in history ? [crying laughter emoji],” another England fan said.
After the match Marler said there was no luck to it and it was all part of an elaborate plan.
“It was planned,” Marler told ITV Sport.
“You won’t believe this but me, Dan Cole and Jamie George in our activation warm-up back at the hotel, part of it was practising our headers. And it came to fruition tonight.”
A try from Freddie Steward on 65 minutes saw England extend their lead while Joe Marchant’s try in the final play of the match saw Steve Borthwick’s men claim a bonus-point victory over Japan. Dan Ludlam went over in what was a tight first half.
The result sees England go top of Pool D with nine points from their first two matches. Their next outing sees them face minnows Chile in Lille on Saturday.
It wasn’t pretty but England got what they wanted from Sunday night’s clashCredit: Getty