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England vs. Argentina Preview: The Heat Is On Ahead of Rugby World Cup Opener
In the picturesque coastal town of Le Touquet, England’s rugby players began their week, blissfully unaware of the mounting pressure that awaited them. Fast forward to the present, and they find themselves in bustling Marseille, a place steeped in Rugby World Cup history and brimming with expectations.
Marseille holds special memories for English rugby fans who vividly remember the remarkable events of 2007. It was here that England defied the odds, upsetting Australia to reach the semi-finals. Now, 16 years later, the current squad is on the precipice of a similar challenge, facing Argentina in their World Cup opener.
The players ventured into town for a coffee on Friday, surrounded by the opulent yachts of the Vieux Port. It’s a stark contrast to the serene beginnings of their week on the northern coast. The mood has shifted dramatically in the last 48 hours, with the team’s recent performance statistics weighing heavily on their minds.
A meager four wins in their last 13 matches, conceding a staggering 50 points at home to France, and a surprising defeat by Fiji have left England fans and pundits alike anxious. The wagons have been circled, and the siege mentality is in full effect.
However, amid the tension, there’s a consistent message from the players and management – confidence, belief, and an unwavering insistence that their game can suddenly click into place.
The current squad boasts an impressive rugby pedigree. Even in the absence of the banned Billy Vunipola and Owen Farrell, nine of the starting XV played in the last World Cup final. Notably, Tom Curry, fresh from his stellar performance for Sale in the Premiership final, returns as well.
Yet, as former head coach Eddie Jones pointed out, this is an “ageing team.” There’s a hint of truth tinged with mischief in Jones’s assessment. The question looms – does England have the consistency and cohesion to challenge the world’s best?
Recent evidence suggests otherwise, with a month of underwhelming performances. Still, the current head coach, Steve Borthwick, remains resolute that the team will be primed for their crucial match in Marseille on September 9th.
Borthwick is known for meticulous preparation, with his tactical acumen lauded during his time at Leicester. But the clarity that was once his hallmark appears to be elusive at the moment.
The selection of lively scrum-half Alex Mitchell exemplifies this uncertainty. Initially omitted from the 41-man training squad due to questions about his game-management, Mitchell now finds himself starting England’s most significant game since the last World Cup final. His role and how he fits into the team’s strategy remain shrouded in mystery.
On the opposing side, Argentina, under the guidance of former Australia boss Michael Cheika, is considered the favorite. They’ve claimed notable victories in recent years, including one against England at Twickenham, which marked the beginning of Jones’s decline as coach.
Argentina’s team boasts strength, power, and experience on paper, and despite concerns about discipline, they’ve received just one yellow card in their last five matches. However, consistency has eluded them, evident in their third-place finish with one win and two defeats in the Rugby Championship.
The outcome remains uncertain. As England has emphasized all week, the outcome of the game is still to be determined. Reports of their demise, they assert, have been premature.
Saturday’s match presents a crossroads moment. A victory would transform the turmoil of the last few months into a distant nightmare, requiring just two more wins against Japan, Chile, and Samoa to reach a winnable quarter-final. But a loss would intensify the pressure on Borthwick, the players, and English rugby as a whole.
As the world eagerly awaits this Rugby World Cup clash, the stakes couldn’t be higher, and the tension couldn’t be more palpable. The 2023 World Cup campaign is about to kick off in Marseille, and rugby enthusiasts around the globe are in for an unforgettable spectacle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Rugby World Cup Opener
Q: What is the significance of the England vs. Argentina rugby match in Marseille?
A: The England vs. Argentina rugby match in Marseille is the opening fixture of the Rugby World Cup. It’s significant because it sets the tone for England’s campaign and carries the weight of their recent performance struggles.
Q: Why is there mounting pressure on the England rugby team?
A: Pressure has been mounting on the England rugby team due to their recent performance woes. They’ve had only four wins in their last 13 matches, suffered a significant defeat by Fiji, and conceded 50 points at home to France.
Q: How has the mood shifted within the England team?
A: The mood within the England team has shifted from the calm beginnings in Le Touquet to a more tense atmosphere in Marseille. Recent performance setbacks have led to a siege mentality, as they face the prospect of a challenging World Cup campaign.
Q: Who is coaching the Argentina rugby team?
A: The Argentina rugby team is coached by Michael Cheika, who was formerly the head coach of the Australian national team.
Q: What are the expectations for Argentina in this Rugby World Cup?
A: Argentina is considered one of the favorites in this World Cup. They have a strong and experienced team, but consistency has been an issue. Their goal is to perform well and make a significant impact in the tournament.
Q: What is at stake for England in this match?
A: For England, this match is crucial. A victory would alleviate the pressure and set them on a path to a potential quarter-final. However, a loss would increase the pressure on the team and coach Steve Borthwick.