England v Argentina: Rugby World Cup 2023 – live | Rugby World Cup

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It was difficult to choose the starting team, because they are all available,” Michael Cheika said of his Argentina team selection.

“Given the game we imagine it will be, we will have six forwards and two backs in the reserves.”

Pablo Matera (No 6), Marcos Kremer (No 7) and Juan Martin González (No 8) is a heavy-duty back row, and Premiership rugby fans know all about Gloucester’s Santiago Carreras at fly-half.

England, clearly, have some good players. I think the main difference between now and 2019 is partnerships: specifically, George Kruis / Maro Itoje, and Sam Underhill / Tom Curry. Both Kruis and Underhill are missed for their individual qualities, but also how they helped others perform.

This is the first time England (the men’s team) have played in Marseille since 2007, and the World Cup quarter-final against Australia.

That was the year that England lost a pool match 36-0 to South Africa before making the final … where they lost to South Africa. I spoke to Paul Sackey, Joe Worsley and Simon Shaw about how they did it:

Gerard Meagher

If ever there was a sequence of events to sum up England’s current strife, it happened on Friday morning, in the labyrinthine Stade Vélodrome, the day before their World Cup campaign begins with a mixture of anticipation, relief that it finally gets under way, and dread, because, well, that should be obvious by now.

The team bus arrived for England’s final training session and Steve Borthwick was first off, marching towards the changing rooms, not even blinking – you wonder when he last did – a million thoughts colliding all at once. An hour or two later a clutch of his players ambled through the bowels of the stadium and found themselves wandering apprehensively towards the press room. In other words, totally lost.

The Engand head coach, Steve Borthwick, speaks to ITV in Marseille: “We’re really looking forward to the game … I sense in the players a real determination. We want to make sure this is a performance the England fans can enjoy tonight.

“Mitch [Alex Mitchell was one of the positives out of our last Test match at Twickenham [the defeat by Fiji] … we’re blessed with a lot of depth at scrum-half. With Danny Care on the bench, it adds a different blend.

“We’ve got experience and some young exciting talent. I’m looking forward to seeing them go.

“The sense I get from the players is one that they feel people have written them off a bit too early … they are looking forward to this fantastic tournament … they’re looking forward to putting forward a level of performance that they can be proud of.”

You ask what do England need to do,” Dallaglio says. “They need to win. All the big teams have arrived [this weekend], and they’ve won … to win today they need to be at the level they were at the last World Cup.”

ITV have rolled out the heavy artillery in the studio: Wilkinson, Woodward, Dallaglio.

“This team, when they’re right into it, it’s a completely different picture,” says Wilkinson about England. “If we see that it could be a very different World Cup.”

“He made a big call,” Woodward says of the Mitchell and May inclusions by Borthwick. “They need to play quicker … Cheika will have done his homework … we’ve got to play quicker, we’ve got to surprise them. We’ve got to get some real pace into the game and do stuff they’re not expecting.”

Ireland and Italy both won earlier:

While Australia just saw off Georgia in Pool C:

Teams-wise, Tom Curry returns to the England lineup after injury, which in theory should be a big boost … one of the other notable things is that Alex Mitchell and Jonny May, both of whom missed out on the initial squad, making the starting XV. Much has been made of Mitchell’s inclusion, and there is no doubt he possesses the talent to make England tick in attack.

Michael Cheika has gone for a six-two split bench split, forwards to backs, with Juan Cruz Mallia slotting in at full-back. Julian Montoya of Leicester, who Borthwick knows a thing or two about after his time as head coach at the Tigers, leads them into battle.


England: Steward, May, Marchant, Tuilagi, Daly, Ford, Mitchell, Genge, George, Cole, Itoje, Chessum, Lawes, Curry, Earl. Replacements: Dan, Marler, Stuart, Martin, Ludlam, Care, Smith, Lawrence.

Argentina: Mallia, Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M. Carreras, S. Carreras, Bertranou, Gallo, Montoya, Gomez Kodela, Alemanno, Lavanini, Matera, Kremer, Gonzalez. Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Petti, Rubiolo, Bruni, Velez, Moroni.


Abject performances, embarrassing results, disciplinary headaches, injuries, disappointing attendances, a domestic game in crisis, and an inexperienced head coach who has had relatively little time to prepare: apart from that, England’s lead-in to the Rugby World Cup has been ideal.

Argentina, on the other hand, have been making progress under Michael Cheika and have recorded some of their finest victories in the past year or so, including their first victory on New Zealand soil and a late Rugby Championship win over the Wallabies last month. The quality of their starting XV suggests today is the day for their first tournament win over England after three previous defeats.

Can Steve Borthwick’s side banish the all-encompassing gloom that’s been hanging over them recently, or will Argentina deliver the widely expected victory that will open up a path into the quarter-finals from Pool D? We’ll know more in a couple of hours …

Kick-off: 8pm UK time

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