Argentina v England in Rugby World Cup copy

England on attack against Argentina. Photo: World Rugby.

Rugby World Cup bronze playoff preview: Argentina v England

Beaten semi-finalists Argentina and England will clash in a rematch of their Pool D encounter when they meet in the third-place bronze medal playoff on Friday.

Argentina v England in Rugby World Cup copy

England on attack against Argentina. Photo: World Rugby.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Rugby World Cup showdown between the Argentina and England at Stade de France, on Friday, 27 October.

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SETTING THE SCENE FOR RWC BRONZE MEDAL GAME

The two defeated semi-finalists have had about a week to pick themselves up from their disappointment, and prepare for the bronze final, the penultimate match of Rugby World Cup 2023, and a curtain raiser to the showpiece match on Saturday.

Argentina will be the first to admit they were second best against New Zealand in Saint-Denis last Friday – but that just means they have a major point to prove against England, here, as they look to send veterans Agustín Creevy and Nicolás Sánchez from the Rugby World Cup stage with a deserved medal around their necks.

Los Pumas’ head coach Michael Cheika has made three changes to his starting XV from that loss to New Zealand, with Pedro Rubiolo replacing Tomas Lavanini in the second-row, Tomás Cubelli coming in for Gonzalo Bertranou at scrum-half, and Jeronimo de la Fuente replacing Santiago Chocobares at inside-centre. 

Even so, it’s a familiar-looking side, with 19 survivors from the 23 who lost to England in the opening round.

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England, too, after coming so close to beating defending champions South Africa on Saturday, will want to sign off from a tournament that has exceeded expectations with one more win – and give the likes of Dan Cole, Danny Care and Ben Youngs one last Rugby World Cup hurrah.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has made eight personnel changes to his starting XV following last weekend’s semi-final loss against South Africa, with five in the pack – including an all-new front-row. Tom Curry, winning his 50th cap on his 49th start for England, is one of three forwards who retains his place in the starting line-up as he switches to blindside for the first time since December 2020. 

Youngs earns his first start at Rugby World Cup 2023 after playing 53 minutes in total off the bench in two appearances, and will resume a half-back partnership with Owen Farrell – making his 100th England start – last seen in the 2021 Six Nations. 

Henry Arundell, meanwhile, returns after his five-try outing against Chile in the third pool phase round, albeit on the opposite wing, while Courtney Lawes has dropped out of the matchday 23 altogether.

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FIXTURE: Argentina v England

GROUND: Stade de France (80,023)

KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)

RUGBY WORLD CUP MATCH PREVIEW: ARGENTINA V ENGLAND

FIXTURE HISTORY

The first match between Argentina and ‘an England XV’ was in 1978 – but the first test, in which caps were awarded to players from both sides, took place three years later. England have enjoyed the upper hand since, winning 20 of the 26 tests. Argentina have won five – most recently last November, when they recorded their second win at Twickenham, the first being in 2006, while that first test in 1981 ended in a draw.

MEMORABLE MATCH

You don’t need a long memory to recall these two sides’ last encounter. It was in Marseille, on the second day of the tournament. Tom Curry was sent off for a dangerous challenge in the third minute, and then George Ford took charge. He landed three first-half drop goals and kicked all of England’s points in a 27-10 victory that got Borthwick’s side off to a winning start. Four victories and one defeat each later, the two sides meet again.

KEY TALKING POINT

The durability of Argentina’s incredible hooker, Creevy, who’s on the bench for the bronze final. If he comes on for his 108th test, the 38 year old will join England’s Jason Leonard and New Zealand’s Richie McCaw as the second-most capped Rugby World Cup players with 22 appearances. He has featured in 13 of Argentina’s 25 all-time RWC victories, the most of any player. 

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PLAYER HEAD-TO-HEAD

Emiliano Boffelli v Owen Farrell. They don’t play in the same positions, but in what could be a tight match, accuracy off the kicking tee will be vital. Farrell is the the second-leading point scorer at RWC 2023 (59) behind France’s Thomas Ramos (74) and has already beaten his previous highest tournament totals of 43 points in 2015 and 58 points in 2019.

Boffelli, meanwhile, is just two points behind Farrell in the RWC 2023 points-scorers’ tally, with 57. And he notched 25 of Argentina’s 30 points in their most-recent victory against England last November.

STATS-AMAZING

Marcos Kremer has played the most minutes of any player at RWC 2023 (451). He’s been busy, too, making the most tackles of any player at the tournament with 74, including the joint-most dominant tackles (7) for Argentina.  

REF WATCH

Nic Berry (Australia). The Australian takes charge of his fourth match at this Rugby World Cup. He will be assisted by Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) and Andrew Brace (Ireland), with Ben Whitehouse (Wales) as TMO.

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England star Ben Youngs will retire after the Rugby World Cup
England star Ben Youngs will retire after the tournament. Photo: Rugby World Cup via X.