5 Things We Learned: England 27-10 Argentina Rugby World Cup - Ruck

5 Things We Learned: England 27-10 Argentina Rugby World Cup

England have started off their 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign with an impressive 27-10 victory over Argentina. George Ford stepped up to the plate, by slotting each and every one of England’s points, with three drop goals and six penalties.

Steve Borthwick was under pressure heading into England’s opening match in Pool D, and an solid, 14-man performance presents confident signs with this win over Los Pumas. Argentina were considered the hardest opponents for England in the pool, with a great weight now lifted off the backs of the team with Japan on the horizon.

Here are the top five talking points, from England’s victory over Argentina.

1. Ford is Phenomenal in Farrell’s Absence

England began their Rugby World Cup campaign without their Captain Owen Farrell, as the fly half serves a prolonged suspension following a high tackle on Wales’ Taine Basham. George Ford started in the 10 jersey, with Marcus Smith on the bench. However, this could well be the new normal, as the Sale Sharks man lead the line confidently from the get-go.

Ford controlled the tempo, and varied the options between sending the ball high or utilising his outside carriers. Ford was hit late by a jumping Santiago Carreras after eight minutes, yet despite the heavy collision, the fly half was able to slot the following penalty and bring his side back from their only stint behind the Argentines.

A magnificent trifecta of drop goals was a sight to behold, as Ford kept the scoreboard ticking over with some audacious attempts. His first effort came after 27 minutes, which caught everyone in Marseille by surprise. The second effort after the half hour mark was an unbelievable strike, as Ford sent the ball sailing through the posts from the half way line. He completed his drop goal hat-trick four minutes before the break, with the trio made possible thanks to the quick ball supplied by re-called scrum half Alex Mitchell.

Ford surpassed his points record for a single England game, with a 27 point haul optimising his stand-out performance. Three points better than his 24 point tally against France in the 2020 Six Nations, Ford was excellent today, with Owen Farrell’s absence having seemingly no impact on the players. Admittedly, Argentina were poor for their standards, yet Ford’s dynamic attacking orchestrated a relentless tempo, which Los Pumas could not withstand as the penalty count grew ever higher.

Ford received a resounding ovation as he was substituted off after he nailed his sixth penalty. Marcus Smith replaced Ford with just five minutes left on the clock, with the damage already more than done thanks to the Sale man’s sharpshooting from the tee, and out of his hands.

2. Will Owen Farrell Get His Place Back?

You would be excused for forgetting that England were playing without their captain, as Steve Borthwick’s men put in a stunning performance against Los Pumas. Farrell was shown on the screens watching on from the stands in Marseille, however will the Saracen remain on the side-line once he has served his suspension? There is no denying that Ford had a blistering performance against Argentina, with his well-rounded outing not limited to just his all-important points scoring.

So, failing a Farrell return to fly half, you have to look to the centres, with all of England’s midfielders putting in strong performances tonight. Manu Tuilagi had an especially good role at centre, as he carried hard and hit even harder. His crunching highlight-reel worthy tackle on Santiago Chocobares sent shockwaves down to the Mediterranean, all the while packing down the scrum at openside flanker following the early dismissal of Tom Curry.

Ollie Lawrence had a decent run out, when he came on for Tuilagi mid-way through the second half. Joe Marchant also had another solid effort, however he did make some unforced errors in try-scoring opportunities for England. Marchant overrun his winger Jonny May, with the Gloucester man furious for not receiving the ball earlier on the overlap. However despite that, Marchant did put in a good performance, and linked up well with his midfield and halfback partners.

The most viable way to force Owen Farrell back into the current England team following that match, would be to have the Saracen start at 12, with Manu Tuilagi outside him. Steve Borthwick may well be set to bring back the tried and tested Ford-Farrell partnership that prospered under Eddie Jones four years ago in Japan, and took England all the way to the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final. The 2020 Six Nations winning combination could well be utilised, with Borthwick eager to capitalise on Ford’s invigorating form, and keep his former Leicester Tigers man on the pitch.