We look ahead to the 2023 Rugby World Cup bronze medal match with our Argentina vs England prediction and preview.
The bronze final is traditionally the game no one really wants to play in. Having missed out on the showpiece event after an often-agonising defeat in the semi-finals, the big-game focus can be hard to ignite. This time, though, you feel both sides will be a little more motivated to end the campaign on a high and prove their pre-tournament doubters wrong.
Argentina have twice contested this play-off match, beating France in 2007 and losing to South Africa in 2015, and they’ll be looking to register their joint-best World Cup finish (2007) having never reached the final before.
England will no doubt still be hurting from their last-gasp defeat to the Springboks last weekend. They’ve not played in a bronze final since 1995 when they lost to France, but should they win, it would be their fifth top-three RWC finish. Only this year’s two finalists will have managed that more often (New Zealand 8, South Africa 6).
It seems an eternity ago that the two sides clashed on the opening weekend of the pool stage in Pool D. England played 77 minutes with 14 men in that one yet still won comfortably thanks to George Ford’s boot. Both teams have improved and found better form since that bizarre match, although Argentina’s chastening defeat to the All Blacks last weekend will have dented their confidence.
Expect an open match with the pressure off and the shackles loosened. England have picked a starting XV that blends experience with youth, and those young stars will be keen to make some headlines.
Route to the Knockouts
- Lost 10-27 vs England
- Won 19-10 vs Samoa
- Won 59-5 vs Chile
- Won 39-27 vs Japan
- Won 29-17 vs Wales
- Lost 6-44 vs New Zealand
- Won 27-10 vs Argentina
- Won 34-12 vs Japan
- Won 71-0 vs Chile
- Won 18-17 vs Samoa
- Won 30-24 vs Fiji
- Lost 15-16 vs South Africa
Both teams have been reliable at getting out of their own danger zone at this World Cup. They have the best 22-exit success rates of any side (Argentina 95%, England 94%) and both choose to kick their way out of danger (Argentina 65% of exits, England 63%) rather than risk carrying it out.
They also rank first and second respectively for maul metres per game (Argentina 30, England 26) and metres per maul (Argentina 5.1, England 4.7). That power in the maul could be negated though as they come head-to-head, so don’t expect that to be used as a weapon too often.
Los Pumas have really impressed with their ruck speed at this World Cup, completing 69% of their rucks in three seconds or fewer, the best rate of any team. If they can carry that into this fixture and get the ball to their dangerous wide men, then they could be a real handful for England to contain. That’s a big if, though; so far they’ve only managed to get 6% of their possessions into the wide channels – only Chile and Namibia have a lower rate at this tournament.
In contrast to Argentina’s ability to move the ball from phase to phase quickly, England have had the slowest attacking ruck speed on average of any nation this year (4.7s). With some of the younger, quicker and more attacking players on the team sheet this Friday, they will hope they can buck that trend. It will be old-timer Ben Youngs tasked with speeding up that delivery in what will be his final international appearance.
England head into this match off the back of probably their strongest performance of the tournament, albeit in a losing cause.
Argentina, however, come into it off of one of their most disappointing. Their defence has come under real stress in recent matches; across their last three matches, they’ve averaged just an 80% tackle success rate, 82% against Chile and Wales and 79% in their humbling defeat to New Zealand, when they missed a massive 51 hits, a record for a Rugby World Cup semi-final fixture.
For England, a number of their senior players will be bowing out of international action after this Rugby World Cup. With that comes an opportunity for the next generation to stake their claim for places in a team that’s in a rebuilding phase.
Ollie Chessum, Theo Dan and George Martin are some of those players but we’re backing Henry Arundell to flash again. The 20-year-old has only made one appearance at this World Cup, but if he can match his try scoring from that one match, he could genuinely end up as the tournament’s top try scorer.
His five-try cameo against Chile will be one that lives long in the memory. It included five line breaks from just nine carries, and if he can find similar space in this match, don’t be surprised if he adds to his tally.
Going head-to-head with Arundell on the wing will be Matteo Carreras, Argentina’s own Mr. Incredible. The Newcastle Falcons flyer has beaten a team-high 27 defenders while also making a joint team-high seven dominant tackles. In fact, Elliot Daly and Damian de Allende (both 8) are the only backs in the competition to make more big hits.
Carreras’ tackle evasion rate of 49% is the fifth best of anyone to face 35+ tackles, behind Raffaele Storti, Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Mark Telea. He will take some stopping and, with familiarity against some of his opponents from his time in the English Premiership, he could be the difference in this match for the Pumas.
Argentina vs England Prediction
Win prediction: Argentina 25.6% – Draw 0.5% – England 73.9%
Score prediction: Argentina 16-31 England
The Opta supercomputer makes England the favourites for this game with a 73.9% chance of picking up the bronze medal. That’s compared to 25.6% for Argentina.
The model’s score prediction is that England will run out 31-16 victors.
Argentina vs England Lineups
Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has made three changes to his starting XV from last week’s loss to New Zealand for this third-place clash against England at Stade de France. Pedro Rubiolo replaces Tomas Lavanini in the second row, Tomás Cubelli comes in for Gonzalo Bertranou at scrum-half and Jeronimo de la Fuente replaces Santiago Chocobares in the centres.
Argentina: 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 5 Pedro Rubiolo, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Facundo Isa, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 11 Mateo Carreras, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 13 Lucio Cinti, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 15 Juan Cruz Mallia
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matías Moroni
England head coach Steve Borthwick has selected a new front row for this bronze medal match. There are also a lot of changes elsewhere, as Chessum joins Maro Itoje in the second row, flanker Sam Underhill gets a start, scrum-half Youngs plays, Arundell comes in on the left wing for Daly, and Marcus Smith returns at full-back.
England: 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Theo Dan, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Ben Earl, 9 Ben Youngs, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Henry Arundell, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 13 Joe Marchant, 14 Freddie Steward, 15 Marcus Smith
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Ollie Lawrence