Paris, France – October 25, 2023
In the wake of their heartbreaking semi-final defeat against South Africa, England’s head coach Steve Borthwick has wielded the selection axe, making eight crucial changes to his starting XV for the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off against Argentina, scheduled for Friday. England had appeared destined for the final before a late penalty by Handre Pollard shattered their dreams in the dying moments of the semi-final clash against the Springboks.
Among the significant changes, Ellis Genge returns to the front row, taking the loosehead prop position after his unfortunate scrum-related infringement led to the decisive penalty against South Africa. Will Stuart is named at tighthead, and Theo Dan will start at hooker. In the second row, Ollie Chessum partners Maro Itoje, while Tom Curry and Ben Earl retain their places in the back row. Flanker Sam Underhill will make his first appearance in the tournament, adding depth to England’s formidable pack.
In the backline, experienced scrum-half Ben Youngs gets his first start of the Rugby World Cup, teaming up with Owen Farrell, who continues his role as the fly-half and the team’s designated kicker. The midfield pairing remains unchanged with Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant, while Henry Arundell returns on the left wing after an impressive display against Chile. Freddie Steward moves to the right wing, and Marcus Smith completes the lineup at full-back.
England’s journey in the World Cup has been marked by highs and lows, with their quarter-final performance against Fiji raising doubts. However, their spirited display against South Africa, where they led 15-6 with just 11 minutes remaining, showcased their resilience and determination. Despite their semi-final disappointment, the team has earned praise for their overall performance in the tournament.
Borthwick expressed his optimism ahead of the bronze final, emphasizing the importance of ending the tournament on a positive note. “After the disappointment of last weekend’s game against South Africa, it is important that this Friday we once again play with the determination and dedication that so nearly earned the team the result we wanted,” Borthwick stated. “The Bronze Final gives us a great opportunity to finish the tournament on a positive note, continue to build for the future, and to give our supporters one last chance to get behind the squad out here in Paris. The players are looking forward to the challenge against what will be a strong Argentina side.”
England will face Argentina at the Stade de France in what promises to be a thrilling contest as both teams vie for the third-place honor in the Rugby World Cup. Rugby enthusiasts around the world eagerly anticipate this clash of titans as the teams prepare for one final battle on the grand stage of the tournament.