England play their final match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup on Friday, in the Bronze Medal decider against Argentina. Steve Borthwick’s side find themselves in the third-place play-off after their heart-breaking semi-final defeat to South Africa.
England lost by the narrowest of margins to the Springboks, after controlling a lead for the majority of the contest. England were nine points ahead with 10 minutes to go, before RG Snyman powered over to score a late Springboks try. South Africa still trailed by two points, yet were awarded a scrum-penalty just inside the England half, with two minutes left on the clock.
Replacement fly-half Handre Pollard stepped up to hammer the final nail into England’s coffin, with his stunning penalty clinching a last-ditch win for South Africa. England were understandably devastated at the final whistle, with a brawl breaking out once referee Ben O’Keefe called for the end of the match. England need to regain their composure ahead of this weekend, as they take on Argentina for a second time in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Los Pumas find themselves in the third-place decider, after taking a heavy semi-final defeat to the All Blacks. New Zealand sent Argentina packing in a rather unceremonious 44-6 win, in a devastating display of attacking ruthlessness, ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby World Cup Final. Argentina and England end their time in France as they started, with this weekend’s Bronze Medal match a repeat of the Pool D opener from seven weeks previous.
England got the better of an albeit poor Argentine side last month, with a 27-10 victory kick-starting their campaign in Marseille. George Ford slotted each of England’s points from the boot, including a magnificent hat-trick of drop goals. Despite this being the match no team wants to find themselves in, the bronze medals are on the line, and Borthwick will need to make some key selection choices for the match.
Here are RUCK’s Predictions, for the England team to play Argentina in the Rugby World Cup Bronze Medal match.
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers)
14. Henry Arundell (Racing 92)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby)
This predicted team is going to have a running theme of looking to the next generation, and our predicted England back-three starts off on this trend. After marking his sole Rugby World Cup appearance with five tries against Chile, England fans are clambering to see Henry Arundell back in the starting line-up. The Racing 92 man would benefit from the tough Argentine opposition, with a chance to prove his skillset against top-tier international opponents.
We believe that Freddie Steward will return to the fullback spot, due to the uncertainty around Marcus Smith’s fitness status. Smith was left out of the Semi-Final after being left battered and bruised by Fiji, with Steward also picked for a tactical gain against the Springboks arial bombardment. We’ve gone for Jonny May to occupy the left wing, with the Gloucester winger looking to extend his record as England’s top active try-scorer in what could be one of his last run-outs for his country.
13. Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby)
12. Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks)
We saw a glimpse of this midfield partnership in the England’s hard-hitting quarter-final victory over Fiji, with Lawrence joining Tuilagi in the midfield for the final half an hour. An interesting duo that utilises out-and-out power up the centre channel, the Tuilagi-Lawrence partnership could well punch holes through the aggressive Pumas defence. This match could also provide a key torch-passing moment from Tuilagi to Lawrence, with the Sale Sharks man rumoured to call time on his international career after the World Cup.
England will soon have a new-look midfield to that of their Rugby World Cup campaign, with Tuilangi’s pending swan-song coupled with Joe Marchant’s upcoming move to Stade Francais. Marchant has been a star-man of Borthwick’s campaign, yet puts his international future in jeopardy with a move to the French Top 14. We’ve opted for Marchant on the bench in the Bronze Medal match, to cover for either centre or wing against Argentina.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
9. Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints)
The fly-half spot has been tough area of contention once again, with George Ford more than proving his capabilities against Argentina in the Pool D opener. However, this match is in no way a ‘dead-rubber’ contest, with Borthwick likely to select his captain at fly-half to bring home the Bronze Medals. Ford waits in the wings as he did against South Africa, with Owen Farrell our pick to start in the 10 jersey.
As for Farrell’s halfback partner, this was another tough call. We believe that Borthwick will look to the future in his selections, and give tournament-breakthrough Alex Mitchell another start against Argentina. The Northampton Saints man has been Borthwick’s first choice scrum-half for the World Cup, with veterans Danny Care and Ben Youngs pushed out to the replacements. Care and Youngs could likely call time on their international tenures not too long after the World Cup, and we’ve picked Youngs on the bench to end his Rugby World Cup career as it began in 2011, in a replacement run out against Los Pumas.