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Rugby World Cup: England v Argentina – a test of mettle as the afternoon ends

Rugby World Cup: England v Argentina – a test of mettle as the afternoon ends

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Courtney Laws and Ben Youngs (centre and right) have already confirmed their Test retirement, while Joe Marler (left) is nearing the end of his career.

Rugby World Cup 2023: Argentina vs England

place: Stade de France, Paris date: Friday 27 October Starting: 20:00 GMT

coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live (starting at 19:00 GMT), plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

Give it nine months and it might make sense.

Then, at the height of the summer of 2024, when the Olympic athletes race around the Stade de France, the bronze medal will carry some weight.

But on Friday, England and Argentina will compete for the final rung of the non-existent podium. The only metal that matters this weekend is the Webb Ellis Gold Cup, which New Zealand and South Africa will compete in the following night.

For England, the push against Argentina will be a test of mettle, not a battle for medals.

“Who made them say: This is the standard we have reached and we have to bring it back, whether you like it or not?”

“It's not what we wanted but we have a chance to go again.”

As England entered an empty Stade de France for the final training session on Thursday, Young was part of a group of veterans at the front of the pack.

If it was a celebratory farewell to those who reach the end of the road, no one would confirm it.

England won't be the only team with holes to patch once this tournament is over.

Johnny Sexton, who was the focus of the Irish show two weeks ago, is already feeling the difficulty of life on the sofa, and admitted this week that he was finding it difficult to leave rugby.

Teammate Keith Earls called it a day. Peter O'Mahony And Conor Murray looks like they might do the same.

Dan Biggar, Wales' standard setter, is packing it. New Zealanders Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitlock will dance in black for the last time this weekend.

Eras end, and given rugby's agonizing four-year cycle, they are often swept away by the ribbon of lifting the World Cup.

England have some exciting talent waiting on the wings, even if they are positioned unevenly across the pitch.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Alfie Barbieri is fit again for Bath after two years out injured at Wasps

Tom Pearson, Tom Willis and Zak Mercer were all close to selection for the World Cup, as were Chandler Cunningham-South, Alfie Barbieri and new Bristol captain Fitz Harding to watch.

However, with Ben Earl and Tom Curry excelling in France alongside versatile Leicester duo Ollie Chisum and George Martin, the back-row cupboard looks well-stocked.

England are in a less good position in the front row.

While 23-year-old Bevan Rudd looked like the next man up a few autumns ago, with starts in wins over Australia and South Africa, he does not appear to have convinced Steve Borthwick, having made just one World Cup appearance so far. cup.

Hooker Jamie George has dug deep in every game that matters to England, reflecting the lack of coordinated opponents.

There are a plethora of wingers who could step into the gaps left by Jonny May's upcoming retirement from Test rugby, Anthony Watson's ongoing injuries and Max Malins' desire to focus on playing full-back.

Henry Arundel's international future is also far from clear as spending at least a year at French team Racing 92 limits his availability.

Leicester's Ollie Hassell-Collins, Newcastle's Adam Rizwan and Northampton's Tommy Freeman have all been in the England squad before, while Sale's trio of talented back four players – Tom Roebuck, Joe Carpenter and Aaron Reid – will have aspirations of moving to the Premier League. . International stage, alongside Saracens' Tom Barton and Exeter's Josh Hodge.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Ollie Hassell-Collins has scored three tries in five games since moving to Leicester from the London Irish in the summer

Will Joseph, Max Ojomoh and Phil Kokanasija could all follow in the footsteps of their famous relatives and make their international debuts if Borthwick is looking for more midfield options.

But for now, Borthwick and his team are looking no further than the end of the Championship and the final part of a long season.

As they ran through some training for the last time in France, the mood seemed almost happy.

If Tom Curry wanted something to distract him from a tough week, his Sale Road team-mate Sam Underhill and former players Marler and George provided it, as the group chatted away while warming up for photographers.

Friday's game will be an opportunity to add more solace to Curry's distraction. Then it will be time for Borthwick to add some lesser-known faces to the mix.