Brighton & Hove Albion 'inspired' England's Rugby World Cup win against Japan after bizarre moment in game

Kaoru Mitoma of Brighton & Hove Albion (2R) joins teammates as they celebrate their 2nd goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on September 16, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Brighton & Hove Albion can take some credit for England's win against Japan in their Rugby World Cup match on Sunday night, after one player took "inspiration" from Roberto De Zerbi's side. 

In the 56th minute of the match, with the score at 13-12 to England, England prop Joe Marler accidentally headed the ball on to assist Courtney Lawes for a try and to extend their lead in the game. 

While most players stopped, Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli had chosen not to blow his whistle for foul play, suspecting the ball had gone backwards before striking a head – which is not considered a knock-on. After checking with television match official (TMO), a try was ultimately given. 

Brighton & Hove Albion Joe Marler of England during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and Japan at Stade de Nice on September 17, 2023 in Nice, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Marler inadvertently headed the ball on for England to score a try (Image credit: Getty Images)

Speaking after the game, Marler joked that Brighton & Hove Albion were behind his successful assist - not that he knew much about, let alone intended, the headed pass. 

"I take huge inspiration from Roberto De Zerbi and his mighty Seagulls who did a demolition job on [Manchester] United yesterday," Marler joked.

Brighton, of course, comfortably dispatched Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross and Joao Pedro all scoring for the Seagulls before Hannibal Mejbri took away their clean sheet. 

Brighton's Italian head coach Roberto De Zerbi celebrates at the end of the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Newcastle United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on September 2, 2023.

Roberto De Zerbi's side battered United 3-1 on Saturday (Image credit: Getty Images)

The result means that Erik ten Hag's side have now lost three of their first five fixtures in the Premier League this season. They next face Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville says the Glazers are responsible for the club's troubles following the defeat to Brighton, though, passionately ranting on social media. 

"I've just got back from Old Trafford and you always have to be optimistic pre-match but the most concerning thing is what we ended up watching wasn't a surprise," Neville wrote.

"This wasn't a lack of effort or a group of players not interested. This was a team well-beaten by opponents that were well drilled and knew what they were doing. Simple as that…

"Oh and yes the Glazers are responsible. It's how it works. You own a business and everything good and bad sits with you! They inherited the best in all areas. They've overseen 10 years of mediocrity off the pitch and on the pitch. They set the culture of greed, ill-discipline, indecision and uncertainty that runs right through the club."

More Brighton & Hove Albion stories

Brighton's scouting network is one of the best in the world, as technical director David Weir explains to FFT.

Paul Barber believes there is no limit on Brighton's potential to mix it with the very best sides in Europe. 

How Brighton convinced Evan Ferguson to sign for them rather than his boyhood club Manchester United

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.