“Finish as high as possible”: Argentina and England, who fell in the semi-finals last week, will try to close their Rugby World Cup on a good note in the match for third place on Friday ( 9:00 p.m.) at the Stade de France.
The two teams have already faced each other during the first weekend of competition. It was September 9 in Marseille and the English, although reduced to 14 at the start of the match, won 27 to 10, thanks in particular to three drops from George Ford, at the end of a dull match.
A lot has changed since then, on one side or the other. The XV de la Rose, with a game plan as basic as it was effective, only lost by one point against South Africa (16-15), defending champion, on the verge of the final.
The Pumas also gained strength over the weeks before sinking in the last four against New Zealand (44-6), but Steve Borthwick is wary of it. “Both teams evolved during the competition,” commented the English coach. Argentina in particular developed a very long kicking game (...) I think it will be a very different match from the first.”
“I am proud of the progress of the group, of the way it was able to deal with difficult situations,” he added. I can't wait until Friday. I will then do an in-depth review of the competition to ensure that I have a plan for the next cycle.”
His team composition to challenge the Argentines, with eight changes compared to the XV which stood up to the Springboks, however suggests that the heart is not quite in it.
He partly decided to prepare for the future by starting his youngsters (Marcus Smith, Freddy Steward, Henry Arundell, Theo Dan) while offering a last stand to scrum-half Ben Youngs, who had hardly played until -there in the tournament.
After their semi-final lost in a big way against the All Blacks, the match for third place came back with much more insistence in the mouths of the Pumas, who have the opportunity to equal the best result in their history in the competition (2007).
“It’s very important to win this bronze medal. For us, for everything we have done and for the country,” confirmed their coach Michael Cheika during the week, who only made three changes.
“It’s important for all the players, for the experience of the group, for the legacy that the most experienced will leave,” he insisted. “The goal is always to finish as high as possible.”