England train ahead of Rugby World Cup clash against Argentina
Life is a one-week cycle as a sportsman. Win at the end of that week and your whole outlook alters. That is all it takes for the bad stuff to melt away. For this England team, after the run-in they have had, a win against Argentina would change everything.
It wouldn’t make them the best team in the world all of a sudden but it would make them feel differently about themselves and about the task ahead in France. At the 2007 Rugby World Cup when the England side I played in were spanked 36-0 by South Africa in our pool match it looked like we would be coming home across the Channel early.
Everyone was on our backs and some home truths were spoken but eight days later we beat Samoa and we were off and running. By the time we came to play the Springboks again – after what was an incredible run to the final – we came within a whisker of winning the whole tournament.
And yes I still think my foot wasn’t in touch. It’s amazing how quickly a switch can be flicked in sport. England just need to find a way to turn the ship around.
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What I want to see from them tonight in Marseille is passion. You are guaranteed that from Argentina but I haven’t seen enough of it in the build-up from England. They can be forgiven the odd wrong call or unpolished system – Steve Borthwick and his coaching team have been given such a short time to sort the technical side – but effort is non-negotiable.
I want Argentina, who are a good side, to know they have come face to face with the real England. After a tough time for the sport in England, with the World Cup on terrestrial TV this is a great shop window for these players.
It is an opportunity for new stars to be made – and rugby should not shy away from that. Too often English conservatism views individualism as a bad thing.
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Rugby can still keep its traditional values of togetherness and humility but I’d love to hear the name of Freddie Steward or Alex Mitchell be the name on every kid’s lips by the end of the tournament.
For that to happen, England need to win some matches. Here’s hoping the turnaround starts tonight. They have the players to do it.
Mark Cueto was speaking in partnership with broadband provider The 4th Utility
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