On Sunday England recorded an emphatic 29-18 win over Wales at Twickenham to give them a chance of winning the RBS 6 Nations competition this weekend. Launchbury, who has been nothing short of outstanding so far in the competition, says that he and the team are hugely pleased with the performance and the result but are now totally focused on the game against Italy this weekend.
“We’re delighted with the win, it was a very hard-fought win, like all international matches are but it was one that we really enjoyed. We are a couple of days on now and we are very focused on Rome and what can happen at the weekend. The way we played at the weekend was very similar to the rest of the tournament. In parts we played well and we really stretched them but in other areas we definitely missed a couple of chances. There is room for improvement there but if you look at the game as a whole we were delighted with the intensity and the way we tried to play the game. There was a lot of pressure on us from what happened last year to go out there and perform. Some guys really stood up and were counted.”
England started the campaign on a false note, falling at the hands of France on the opening weekend, but have since bounced back with wins in all the rest of their fixtures.
“I suppose you can look at it in two ways. Either as an opportunity missed or you can focus on how well we have bounced back. France are a great team and they are always going to be hard to play and hard to beat, especially over there. To lose in the end like that it would have been very easy to feel sorry for ourselves and to have gone into our shell. If anything we have improved game on game since then and that is what we need to keep doing if we want to get better. We are a young team and we are going to have setbacks like that but it is all about how we react to that and keep improving.”
This weekend, England travel to Rome to face Italy in the final game of the competition with the 6 Nations title still up for grabs.
“Going into last weekend anyone could have won the competition. That has narrowed down slightly ahead of this weekend but there are still a few teams who can win it. We will worry about ourselves first and foremost. The way the kick offs are staggered gives us time to focus on ourselves. We have to worry about our own performance, we can’t go chasing a big score, Italy are too good a team to do that. I found that out last year when they pushed us all the way and that is what I learned more than anything about international rugby, there are no easy games. We’ll go there first of all and worry, first and foremost, about how we are trying to play the game and I’m sure that everything else will take care of itself. As for the evening, I think that will be a great occasion and a great game. Obviously it is Brian O’Driscoll’s last game and I think Ireland will be going all out to try and send him off in style and the French are obviously still in with a shout as well.”
“Like I said early, there are no easy games here and Italy always seem to up there game a little bit for us. It is definitely a huge challenge and we are going there with our heads fully switched on. Last weekend is gone and we are back in a different headspace ahead of this weekend.”
“I have never been but I have had a couple of games in Italy before, so I know how passionate they are about their rugby and we obviously have a couple of Italians at Wasps in Andrea [Masi] and Carlo [Festuccia]. They are very passionate and they have been great for us as a club and the way we try to play the game. Andrea will hopefully be involved and hopefully I’ll get to catch up with him.”
Launchbury has truly made his mark on the international stage during this 6 Nations competition an, having made his Wasps debut just three years ago, he has come a huge distance in such a short space of time.
“I’m delighted. I think that every time you pull on the England shirt you try to justify your selection and I have been trying to do that ever since Stuart put me in at a young age. Courtney [Lawes] has come in now and is playing in such a rich vein of form. It makes it a bit easier when the pack around you are performing and to play alongside such a talented bunch of guys.”
This is part of an interview with Russell Hargreaves with Talking Rugby.