News Update


Alex Mitchell and Jonny May to start England’s Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina

Scrum-half Mitchell and wing May were late additions to Steve Borthwick’s team after Jack van Poortvliet and Anthony Watson were forced to withdraw due to injuries.

With captain Owen Farrell suspended for the first two pool games, George Ford will start at fly-half.

Tom Curry makes his first appearance since the Premiership final in May.

Curry, who began the 2019 World Cup final loss to South Africa, is yet to play for England this summer due to an ankle ailment.

At number eight, Ben Earl replaces Saracens teammate Billy Vunipola, who is suspended for the first game after receiving a red card against Ireland in England’s final warm-up game.

In Farrell’s absence, Courtney Lawes completes the back row on the blind side and remains captain.

Dan Cole, a veteran prop, starts at tight-head, with Bath’s Will Stuart selected among the replacements.

“He [Cole] is one of those wise heads,” stated Borthwick. “He doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s important.” When he speaks, time appears to stop.”

Elliot Daly has recovered from a knee ailment to join 73-cap May and regular full-back Freddie Steward in the back three.

Joe Marchant of Harlequins will join Manu Tuilagi in the middle, as they did in Ireland’s loss in Dublin.

Substitute scrum-half Danny Care, 36, is selected ahead of Leicester Tigers’ Ben Youngs on the bench for what may be his only World Cup participation, having made his debut against Uruguay in 2015.

England, rated tenth in the world, lost three of their four pre-World Cup warm-up games.

Borthwick’s team will also play Japan, Chile, and Samoa in Pool D, with the top two teams advancing to the quarter-finals.

The Rugby World Cup opens with an unusually close group of contenders. Dan Cole believes the Pumas’ scrum is still a ‘force’.
Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Dan Biggar, and Finn Russell Mitchell are among the fly-halves calling the calls.
Prior to his injury, Van Poortvliet of Leicester Tigers had been Borthwick’s preferred scrum-half, starting every game in the Six Nations, with the 22-year-old recognized for his excellent kicking game.

Mitchell, a dashing scrum-half, scored seven Premiership tries for Northampton Saints last season but was left out of the first 33-man team.

“It’s a huge credit to Mitch [Mitchell] because he was extremely disappointed not to make the original 33-man squad,” Borthwick continued.

“I told every player I spoke with at the time to go away and make sure they were ready to be the next man in.”

“He’s trained extremely well.” He did precisely what we requested of him, which was to ensure he was ready to travel.”

Borthwick chose the scrum-half ahead of seasoned scrum-halves Care and Youngs to start England’s last warm-up game against Fiji.

With only five tries in four warm-up games, England’s offense may require more energy and vitality, and Mitchell, according to former England international Ugo Moyne, may help generate “organized chaos.”

Pumas follow their instincts.
Argentina, who defeated England 30-29 at Twickenham last November, has picked an experienced team, with nine players in the starting XV having World Cup experience.

Leicester Tigers captain Julian Montoya and Gloucester fly-half Santiago Carreras are among the Premiership players.

Agustin Creevy, 38, will compete in his fourth World Cup, joining Mario Ledesma, Felipe Contepomi, and Martin Scelzo as the Argentines with the most tournament appearances.

Coach Michael Cheika has chosen the Sale Sharks hooker as part of a 6-2 split of forwards and backs on the bench.


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