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OLIVER HOLT: England did not fold… they took the breath away towards Argentina, with George Ford the hero of one in all most stirring World Cup shows

There’s a bronze sculpture close to the Vieux Port known as Bleu de Chine. It depicts a person newly-arrived in Marseille, a case in his left hand. A lot of his higher physique is lacking. He has no proper arm and no abdomen.

England followers strolled previous it within the afternoon sunshine earlier than the match on their solution to lunch. Some took footage. Till final night time, they could have regarded it as an emblem of their workforce, a workforce that has performed like hole males for too lengthy.

That every one modified within the cauldron of the Stade Velodrome, although. That every one modified when blindside flanker Tom Curry was despatched off after simply three minutes of England’s opening World Cup tie towards Argentina and the Pumas scented blood.

It modified as a result of, as an alternative of folding, as an alternative of disappearing, an England workforce that has stumbled from one mishap to a different, one controversy to a different, one defeat to a different, in current months, reached deep inside themselves and found a fairly magnificent defiance.

No abdomen for the battle? Nothing may have been farther from the reality. Not final night time anyway. If Curry’s dismissal was yet one more instance of their indiscipline, they reacted to it with a show of such bravery and talent and guile that it took the breath away.

George Ford played a dazzling game as England got their Rugby World Cup off with a flyer

George Ford performed a stunning recreation as England received their Rugby World Cup off with a flyer

Tom Curry was the first England player dismissed at a Rugby World Cup after an early tackle

Tom Curry was the primary England participant dismissed at a Rugby World Cup after an early deal with

Stand-in captain Courtney Lawes was a titan, one of several outstanding players for England

Stand-in captain Courtney Lawes was a titan, one in all a number of excellent gamers for England

Sure, they have been aided by a desperately disappointing efficiency from Argentina however that was partly as a result of the Pumas appeared so greatly surprised by England’s refusal to bow to their setback and bow to their very own current historical past of mediocrity.

As a substitute, England stood up. And out of all of the doubts and criticism which have plagued them within the build-up to this event, they produced what’s going to go down as one in all their most stirring performances at a World Cup.

Their hero was George Ford who destroyed Argentina with three drop targets in swift succession within the first half and, within the absence of Owen Farrell, performed like the overall that he so usually is in membership rugby however which he’s hardly ever allowed to be with England.

Ought to Farrell come straight again into the aspect when his suspension expires after the subsequent match towards Japan subsequent weekend? Not on this proof. England seemed smarter and extra free with out him. Ford seemed liberated.

Ford was magnificent. He scored all 27 of England’s factors. Stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes was a titan, too. So was Maro Itoje, and the whole lot of the England pack. This was a victory towards all odds.

It was additionally a victory for beleaguered England coach Steve Borthwick. Borthwick was being lampooned earlier than this match, characterised as a weak chief who couldn’t encourage his workforce. This was his second of reality as England coach. Final night time, nobody may say his gamers didn’t play for him. Nobody may say they didn’t reply to his management.

On this cauldron of a stadium, this cauldron of a metropolis, this teeming port that’s hardly ever type to the weak, England stood tall. This is not going to change every thing. This was not a match performed on the similar stage as France’s victory over New Zealand in Paris on Friday night time.

But it surely does imply they’re more likely to win Pool D. Additional ahead, it’ll ship perception flooding by way of them for after they attain the quarter-finals towards doubtless opponents Wales or Australia.

Curry's yellow card was upgraded to a red card by the Bunker review early in the first half

Curry’s yellow card was upgraded to a purple card by the Bunker overview early within the first half 

The referee showed a yellow card to Argentina's Santiago Carreras for a bad looking challenge

The referee confirmed a yellow card to Argentina’s Santiago Carreras for a foul wanting problem

Out of uplifting nights like this, momentum can rapidly construct and final night time felt just like the sort of night time that may at the very least be a platform for enchancment.

England had received off to the worst doable begin when Curry, whose return to the aspect had been such a supply of optimism, smashed his head into Juan Cruz Mallia as Mallia took a excessive ball. He was proven a yellow card initially. It was quickly upgraded to a purple. Curry is the primary England rugby union participant to be despatched off at a World Cup.

He additionally turned the primary England quantity 7 to be despatched off in a World Cup recreation towards Argentina in France since David Beckham achieved that distinction in Saint-Etienne in 1998. And the third England rugby participant to be proven a purple card since August. England’s expertise for including to their very own woes beggared perception.

Despite the fact that Curry’s purple appeared harsh, it was arduous not to attract a line between it and the best way England had tried responsible everybody besides Farrell through the furore over the England skipper’s punishment for a harmful deal with towards Wales final month. That unwillingness to take duty for actions breeds penalties.

Steve Borthwick's England side found reserves of belief and drive that few knew they held

Steve Borthwick’s England aspect discovered reserves of perception and drive that few knew they held

Ford played like he was two men, and led England's refusal to fold despite the early setback

Ford performed like he was two males, and led England’s refusal to fold regardless of the early setback

If everybody anticipated England to fold after such a brutal setback, although, they have been stunned. England didn’t fold. Aided by some sloppy play from their opponents, Borthwick’s aspect discovered reserves of perception and drive that few knew they possessed.

From the depths of despair, they mounted a stirring comeback. They performed as if that they had an additional man on the pitch, not one fewer. That was primarily as a result of Ford performed as if he have been two males.

He led England’s refusal to submit, kicking three very good drop targets in ten minutes to place England 12-3 up. England’s pack performed like lions, too. It was magnificent defiance by England when every thing appeared to be unravelling and Ford seized his second.

England by no means wavered after that and Argentina had no reply. And so, after a day of sweltering warmth in a metropolis the place riots and conflagration have greeted visiting England soccer groups twice prior to now 25 years, a metropolis with an edge, a metropolis thronged with Argentina supporters, a metropolis that’s not a cushty place for the unprepared or the weak, England lastly seemed like a workforce that had been made entire once more.



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