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England player ratings vs Argentina | Rugby World Cup 2023

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

England player ratings from Liam Heagney live in Marseille: This was the moment of truth, the night when it all supposed to become all right in the England tenure of Steve Borthwick and it miraculously did just that despite a red card for Tom Curry.


That massive third-minute setback had the critics preparing introductory paragraphs about England having a serious discipline problem as this was their third red card in four games.

However, that early banishment for Curry instead remarkably became the galvanizing tonic that England needed to suddenly rid them of their desperate run of form and results.

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Inspiringly led by skipper Courtney Lawes, they courageously went on to boss the breakdown and with George Ford immaculate with the boot in landing a hatful of penalties (six in total) to go with his dramatic 10-minute first-half drop goal hat-trick, they enjoyed a comfortable 27-10 victory that now has them clear favourites to march on and secure top spot in Pool D, continuing with next weekend clash versus Japan in Nice.

The only blemish was giving up a late, late consolation try after a fantastic defensive performance that will do the troubled Kevin Sinfield structure the power of good and it left English fans in the 63,118 attendance thrilled with what they had seen despite the oppressive Saturday night humidity and the lack of a single try by their team. Here are the England player ratings:

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
Avg. Points Scored

15. Freddie Steward – 7.5
Came into the tournament out of sorts, but rose to the occasion despite the tricky circumstances. Show no fear under the high ball and recent defensive issues were a thing of the past. A sound restorative performance.

14. Jonny May – 6.5
One of two players in the starting XV who didn’t make the original 33, he had a quiet opening half where his one moment to shine was damaged by some lax passing that ate up the edge which looked to be available at 9-3 if the ball arrived to him quicker. Can take pride, though, in how he tempted Matteo Carreras to rashly kick the ball dead rather than run at him when the chance was on from the Argentina 22.


13. Joe Marchant – 7
One of the rare England players to have shown some encouraging form in August, he continued that with some decent first-half carries. Continue to do his bit with precision after the break.

12. Manu Tuilagi – 7.5
Was a top-notch energy giver in the way he cajoled his teammates all the way through his 69 minutes before giving way for Ollie Lawrence on 69 minutes. Tackled hard to ensure the Sinfield defence didn’t leak as it had been. Spoke brilliantly afterwards about how much he enjoyed filling in at the scrum with Curry banished.

11. Elliot Daly – 6
A doubt for the finals with an August 19 knee injury in Dublin, he pitched up fit. The pitch was this wasn’t a night for wingers, so narrow were Argentina in attack and so limited were England when they were on the move. Missed a couple of penalties but this wasn’t costly.

10. George Ford – 10
Channeled his inner Jonny Wilkinson to produce an extravagant 10-minute drop-goal hat-trick that took England 12-3 clear at the break. He had set the tone with the penalty after getting hit late by Santiago Carreras and showed great cup-tie intelligence. Even simple things like taking a mark just before the break even though he had acres of space to play in. In the end, he scored all 27 of England’s points, exciting to a standing ovation on 75 minutes after landing his final kick for 27-3.


9. Alex Mitchell – 8
Started tidily in just his second start for England, he thrived in 14-man England suddenly having to be more energetic, high tempo and a bit less predictable on the ball after a pedestrian August. Curry’s third-minute loss was Mitchell’s gain as aside from slick passing and some box kicking, there were a couple of first-half runs and even an offload. His threat was encapsulated early after the break when he raced down the blindside after grasping an awkward bounce off a Courtney Lawes lineout out tap. Played his part sublimely for 59 minutes to help England lead 21-3 and leave you scratching your head as to why Borthwick axed him from the training squad of 4o-something named on June 30.

1. Ellis Genge – 7
Warned people who had written England off that there would be a response and fair play, he was proven to be fully correct. His own contribution wasn’t fully at the top of his game but he tackled often and made his marginal but important few metres in traffic before exiting on 54 minutes with England 18-3 clear.

2. Jamie George – 9
Having enjoyed a high first-half tackle count, he trooped off at the break having been the England player to have gotten closest to the Argentina line with one spinning surge. He went on to lap up the second half knowing momentum at the breakdown was all England. Played for 72 minutes, exiting just seconds after the fans in the stands just behind the level seven media area had been chanting “Super Kevin Sinfield”.

3. Dan Cole – 8
Publicly denied he had a point to prove, getting back to this World Cup stage four years after his nightmare in the final versus the Springboks. But he was very much a veteran prop on a huge reputation-restoring mission and he exited on 50 minutes to a rousing reception from the England fans thrilled that they had seen him play an excellent role in securing a 15-3 lead. Just minutes before came his crowning moment, winning a scrum penalty to huge cheers from team and fans alike. Very well played.

4. Maro Itoje – 9.5
Just like Cole, the lock enjoyed a very redemptive evening after a string of laboured and muddled performances. A highlight was his turnover penalty that was won to see England move 18-3 up and ensure the second half would be a repeat of his team’s first-half joy. Finished as England’s top tackler. Welcome back, Maro!

5. Ollie Chessum – 7
Another who bowed out on 59 with England deservedly 21-3 clear. His enthusiasm since his long-term injury return was one of the few August silver linings and while getting on the ball remained something for other players to do in Marseille, his grunt work rate was impressive. There was one missed lineout catch at 6-3, but he was excellent at clearing rucks and being a bloody nuisance with Argentina’s confidence draining away.

6. Courtney Lawes – 10
It could have all gone south for England with their ropey red card start but Lawes was kryptonite to Argentina when leading by example in the game-deciding opening stanza. His two turnover penalty wins, especially the one that had Julian Montoya penalised with Argentina attacking off a tapped penalty near the line, were massive momentum swings and his enthusiasm when double-tackling with Tuilagi was another uplifting moment. Continued to boss things in the second half, he was cheered off on 66 minutes with England 21-3 up and Ford having the ball in the kicking tee to make it 24. Brilliant, simple brilliant.

7. Tom Curry – 0
Was hailed in the build-up as the potential missing link for the England defence as he arrived in France without playing a single minute of the four-game Summer Nations Series. That idea quickly went out the window, though. The clock was stopped on just 2:59 when referee Raynal decided to yellow card the openside for his head-to-head contact with Mallia. Off he went having made just that single tackle and it was seven minutes later, just after Ford had levelled at three-all when the foul player review officer confirmed the card should be upgraded to red, the first ever such sanction for an England player at a World Cup.

8. Ben Earl – 8.5
He will never be a traditional ball-carrying No8, but England didn’t need one on the night as his tackling was crucial in frustrating Argentina the whole way through. Will kick himself, though, for the first-half moment when he kicked away possession and wasted a try chance by not passing to his right.

16. Theo Dan – No Rating
Just a token late few minutes.

17. Joe Marler – 7
Showed how not to do replacement appearances when used versus Fiji two weeks ago, but he was a very different customer here in his 27 minutes, keeping his composure and even getting a few carries in.

18. Will Stuart – 7
Had three minutes more than Marler on the pitch and was as equally effective in keeping the England pack on the front foot and building their scoreboard advantage.

19. George Martin – 6
Given 21 minutes to play the Chessum role, the experience of being involved in a winning England team will do the rookie a world of good.

20. Lewis Ludlam – 8
Played just 14 minutes but was credited with a whopping dozen tackles.

21. Danny Care – 7
Had described this as potentially being the biggest week of his career until he learned he wasn’t starting. Fluffed his lines as a sub the last day out against the Fijians, but more cohesive here with what he did.

22. Marcus Smith – No Rating
Token five minutes for Ford with the result all wrapped up.

23. Ollie Lawrence – No Rating
Another late runner who was introduced on 69 with the game done and dusted.


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Jez 276 days ago

Too generous for May and Daly, far too harsh on Manu who was immense as a back and forward. 7 is an insult!!!

Brian 276 days ago

Fair play to England but personally I wouldn't pay anything to go and sit through that

Michael Röbbins (academic and writer extraordinair 277 days ago

First, George Ford has shown himself to have the biggest penis of any rugby player alive. Second, Ben Earl proves himself to be the best Neanderthal playing rugby today. Third, rugby is not about keeping players safe. It’s primarily about playing a beautiful, brutal game and secondarily about being fascinatingly entertaining, tertiary yadada… much later is it about safety, if one can use the word “safe” with grown ass men running into each other at high speeds. The point: to give Curry a red for that incident is perhaps the stupidest punitive measure I’ve ever seen in any professional sport ever. Same for the challenge on Ford, thankfully they didn’t upgrade it. Rugby is in danger of suiciding upon itself if it keeps these utterly stupid judgments coming.

Bob Marler 277 days ago

Love it. These ratings will do the English a world of good for their overconfidence.

Lots of 10/10 and 9,5 ratings being doled out there. For a try less win. Let’s hope this goes straight to their heads. A cocky English team without substance will make for chowder when they have to play the big boys getting battle hardened for the knockouts.

Chris 277 days ago

Was in the stadium, those grades are way too generous... fair play to England to win with a man down but boy are the attack structures worrying.

David 277 days ago

It was great performance winning when playing with14 men against 16, counting the referee!

Alex 278 days ago

I said it earlier today. England and Australia are both coming in underrated and will beat expectations. Not that either will win it all, still tip Boks for the repeat. But the situation with both was not nearly as bad as pundits and their own fans made it out to be over the past month.

Timmyboy 278 days ago

Never in doubt. England to peak for the final and win it all !

Henry 278 days ago

Amazing! I thought that England were done after that red card. What a performance by the England pack! …. But, Argentina, what happened? How come you couldn’t take advantage of being a man up?

finn 278 days ago

hopefully now the people claiming England have no good players will shut up for a week or two at least

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