England told to drop stars as South Africa accused of ‘disrespect’

Rugby World Cup: Highlights day 23

England icon Courtney Lawes has revealed that he will retire from international duty after the Red Roses’ third-place playoff game against Argentina on Friday. The 34-year-old has been capped over 100 times for his country and is a veteran of four World Cups and two British and Irish Lions tours.

Speaking on Sunday, he said: “I haven’t told Steve yet! But I will let him know. I’ve said to the boys, anyone that’s asked. I think it’s time. I’ve done four World Cups, so I’m pretty happy with that.

“It’s a bit of an end of an era, but it’s been a real honour for me to represent England for so long. It flies by. I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on. It’s not always been the ups. Plenty of downs in there, but I’ve pushed through.

“I’m not an emotional person really, but it’s just been a huge honour for me. To be able to finish with this group, it’s something I’ll treasure forever.” Lawes were cruelly denied the perfect send-off after a spirited comeback from South Africa was enough to edge Steve Borthwick’s men 16-15 in the semis. England will now battle it out with old foes Argentina for a bronze medal while the Springboks meet New Zealand in the final.

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South Africa accused of ‘disrespect’

England winger Jonny May insists South Africa don’t respect the Red Roses after hearing what their coaches said about them following the 2019 World Cup.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t think necessarily that the South Africans respect us. Some of the things their coaches openly said about us in their documentaries probably just adds fuel to the fire,” May told Sky Sports.

“For me personally, I try my best every game, regardless of whether a team and coaches respect what you do.

“I think we’re getting better, so that’s all we can do, which is work hard and improve.

“It was a tighter game than it was four years ago. This team beat us comfortably in the autumn, and that felt like a game that maybe got away from us. On another day we genuinely could have won.”

Borthwick told to drop England stars

Red Roses legend Matt Dawson has advised Steve Borthwick to drop his senior stars for fringe players ahead of their third-place play-off with Argentina on Friday.

“Friday’s third-place play-off against Argentina is a funny sort of fixture,” Dawson wrote for the BBC. “It might be one more for fringe players to try and press their case before next year’s Six Nations. It probably won’t be Steve Borthwick’s style, but I would approach it almost like a Barbarians fixture.

“This England squad will never be together again. This tournament is unique to those in that camp. I would give them the space and freedom to bond and socialise together as people, rather than players. Let them create more memories and then go out and chase a win together.”

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