Tomorrow at midday, Argentina will face England at Twickenham, the home of Rugby, in what will be their fourth encounter in a year.
Los Pumas are currently ranked 10th in the world and are struggling after having found themselves at the foot of the Rugby Championship table with 0 points and a staggering -125 points difference.
England, on the other-hand continue to grow following their embarrassing group stage exit from the 2015 World Cup, which they hosted.
England won the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations tournament, the former being a Grand Slam victory, and have won 19 out of 20 games with Jones at the helm.
It is for this very reason that Daniel Hourcade, the Argentine coach, claims that the pressure is on England. Hourcade has publicly played down his team’s chances of beating England, but has stated that this can be an advantage for Argentina. No one, by the seems of things even Hourcade, expects Argentina to win, hopefully allowing his players to play their ‘devil may care’ attacking rugby that captivated global audiences at the 2007,2011 and 2015 World Cups.
According to the Argentine coach, a Pumas defeat is logical and so free from any pressure their game plan is to assault England’s weak points, if this England team has any.
Highlights of a truly memorable day for Argentine rugby.
The Argentine Strategy
Remember this is just an Autumn International so it’s not a competitive fixture.
Veteran fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez has been picked ahead of Nicolas Sanchez. The 35 year old is set to gain his 73rd cap for the national side, as is one of four changes to the team that recently played Australia.
Garcia Botta comes into the start lining up ahead of Noguera, whilst Lavanini will start at second row Kremer being switched to flanker. In the backs, two changes have been made with Moyano returning from injury to start on the wing and Moroni moving to inside center dislodging Orlandi in the process.
The plan for Argentina is simple: pressure and pace. The Argentine experiment of cleverly articulated set piece moves has failed, and we can expect an all out frontal assault from the Pumas tomorrow.
What this means is that the Argentine attack can literally come from anywhere as they revert back to their 1-15 Rugby style. Basically, a format where the ball is kept alive through off loads in contrast to the more orthodox Northern Hemisphere Rugby style where the ball is played from rucks allowing teams to utilise the full weight of their forwards. By playing this kind of Rugby you can prevent the opposing sides from making the most out of their pack, at times completely neutralising their strongest asset.
For a neutral it makes for great rugby, and it tends to ensure a great scoreline.
In addition to this it is a tactic that has worked in the past for Argentina, especially against European teams who aren’t as used to such a fluid fast moving game. There is always a risk to playing this form of Rugby, and in order for it to succeed you must have great defensive discipline. In no other ways to describe it Argentina’s defence is nothing short of a ‘Quilombo’.
In the first 3 games of the Rugby Championship this year, Argentina conceded a staggering 33 penalties and 1 red card. At international level, expect any mistake to be capitalized on, and your opponents to sniff out any weakness to exploit it. Unfortunately for Argentina, the mainstays of world rugby are aware that any pressure applied to an Argentine defense can easily result in a penalty – i.e a chance to kick for three points (within reason). Discipline is a key factor in Argentina’s declining change of fortunes.
Ramiro Herrera is now ineligible to play for the national side.
Another crucial reason being the decision to bar foreign based players from representing the national team. This now means Argentina will be without Tight-Head Prop Ramiro Herrera who has recently transferred to Stade Francais.
The English Renaissance
Eddie Jones’ has quite literally worked wonders with this England team.
England will be out without Itoje and Farrell for Satuday’s fixture, the pair have been overlooked, with Jones’ stating that the decision to exclude the two rising stars of English Rugby is in the interests of their long term development.
England have basically destroyed everyone who has come at them in the last 2 years, Jones taking charge in November 2015. Their only defeat was earlier in the year against Ireland, a sombre scoreline of 15-9 in Dublin.
In fact, South Africa, Argentina, Wales and France have all succumbed to the English machine of late. What is more impressive is that every single side to play England, with the exception of Ireland, has been defeated. The only other side in the World who can boast such an impressive form is around 13,000 KM away is obviously New Zealand. Who else?
History is not on Argentina’s side. The two sides have met 22 times, and Argentina has only triumphed 4 times. The last time Argentina were able to overcome England at Fortress Twickenham was in 2006.
The two sides met in Argentina this winter when England toured the country. The first test was a close shave for England with the final result being an Englsih victory by a slim margin, 34-38. The next test was in Salta with the game being slightly mroe clear cut that the previous match in San Juan, with England coming out on top 35-25.
Not taking anything away from the tenacity of those Argentine performances, but it was undoubtedly a weakened England team. As at the very same time, June 2017, the British and Irish Lions were touring New Zealand. Out of the original 41 Lions selected to tour, 16 were English. Los Pumas played well, but it was clearly a half manned England side.
My advice for anyone watching the Rugby tomorrow, do not get your hopes up, England’s home form is impressive whilst Argentina’s away form is below par. However, do by all means enjoy what promises to be an enthralling rugby match.
Argentina will face Italy next week in Florence, a match they should win, followed by a trip to Dublin on the 25th.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Banjamin Macome, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Sebastian Cancellere
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 6 Chris Robshaw, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Nathan Hughes
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Danny Care, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni