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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 5 April, 2020


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And a very good morning to you, rugby fans.

A super early, super Saturday of Rugby World Cup action is already 33% behind us after Fiji’s flying start was unceremoniously shot down by Australia.

Here’s our report of that bonus point success for the Wallabies. And here’s hoping we don’t see concussion-inducing hits like this one in the games ahead.

But enough about Australia-Fiji, that’s all the way over in Pool D.

This is Pool C, this tournament’s Grupo de Muerte – as the Argentines might call it – and France v Argentina promises to be an almighty scrap to get a leg up alongside England as favourites to progress to the knockout stage.

This is, of course, a repeat of the opening round match of the 2007 World Cup, when Argentina showed someone other than Ireland how much they enjoy pooping parties.

Source: Quentin Calamusa/YouTube

Here are the teams for the 2019 edition.

This French side will be dangerous if they get organised.


15. Maxime Medard
14. Damian Penaud
13. Gael Fickou
12. Virimi Vakatawa
11. Yoann Huget
10. Romain Ntamack
9. Antoine Dupont

8. Gregory Alldritt
7. Charles Ollivon
6. Wenceslas Lauret
5. Sebastien Vahaamahina
4. Arthur Iturria
3. Rabah Slimani
2. Guilhem Guirado (captain)
1. Jefferson Poirot.


16. Camille Chat
17. Cyril Baille
18. Demba Bamba
19. Bernard Le Roux
20. Louis Picamoles
21. Maxime Machenaud
22. Camille Lopez
23. Thomas Ramos.


15. Emiliano Boffelli
14. Matias Moroni
13. Matias Orlando
12. Jeronimo de la Fuente
11. Ramiro Moyano
10. Nicolas Sanchez
9. Tomas Cubelli

8. Javier Ortega Desio
7. Marcos Kremer
6. Pablo Matera (captain)
5. Tomas Lavanini
4. Guido Petti
3. Juan Figallo
2. Agustin Creevy
1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.


16. Julian Montoya
17. Mayco Vivas
18. Santiago Medrano
19. Matias Alemanno
20. Tomas Lezana
21. Felipe Ezcurra
22. Benjamin Urdapilleta
23. Santiago Carreras.

The blood-thirsty anthems are behind us, we’ve a second cup of tea in hand and we are all set for game 3 of the Rugby World Cup.


Cagey opening minute or so is ended by a shocking loose pass from Cubelli into the arms of flanker Charles Ollivon.

The openside looked to move the ball quickly, but Les Bleus couldn’t turn the turnover into immediate points.

A knock-on leads to a scrum and the Pumas flex their muscles at the set-piece to force a penalty.


The Pumas looking like they’ve settled quickest here then, line-out functioning nicely as well as scrum. But Jefferson Poirot comes up with a big hit to halt their progress in attack.


The hits keep coming. Augustin Creevy is a brick wall for Damian Penaud to run in to.

The ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ are flowing in the crowd.


France survive the first real onslaught from Argentina. 

Petti charges into the 22 after an up and under is batted back into his path. The Puma pack throw themselves into contact with the line just five metres away, but Les Bleus hold firm, albeit while conceding a penalty.

Penalty! France 0 Argentina 3 (Sanchez ’14)


There’s the champagne rugby we were hoping for from France.

Medard steps seamlessly into the attack line as they move the ball from left to right. The veteran fullback floats a gorgeous skip pass out to Penaud and he wriggles clear of tacklers to set France up deep in the 22.

They truck it up, but quickly look wide again for Vakatawa and then Fickou steps in and out to create space to score the try.

Ntamack’s conversion is a beauty too.

France 7 Argentina 3


Two tries in four minutes for Les Incroyables Bleus.

Their wide threat is on full display again as Fickou clips inside and they show terrific handling in attack to raid through tight spaces before the number 9 pops up to finish in the right corner.

France 14 Argentina 3


Penaud is taking this World Cup by storm. Another bustling break in the middle leads to a French penalty, and young Ntamack ain’t missing a beat today.

PENALTY! France 17 Argentina 3 (Ntmack ’30)


You want to feast your eyes of this French flair we speak of?



And there’s another massive piece of the puzzle for Jacques Brunel’s boys.

Argentina had mounted pressure in the 22 with their scrum, but the big blue pack force a penalty five metres from their line. 

That relieving kick is followed up by another penalty after the line-out and so France are all the way up in Argentina’s half.


France are just wonderful. They zip wide off the line-out with Penaud, Ntamack and Medard getting hands on the ball as they go wide.

Penaud pops up again after Vakatawa works to create space, but this time they don’t complete the magic move.

Flag 40Mins

Before the half-time gong goes, Angus Gardner goes to the TMO to have a look at Tomas Cubelli’s clothesline on Yoann Huget.

Gardner may well have felt Huget had it coming to him as he awarded just a penalty, which Ntamack seems to be able to knock over with his eyes closed today.

PENALTY: France 20 Argentina 3 (NTamack ’40)

HALF-TIME: France 20 Argentina 3


Right then, we’re all rested and refreshed by half-time and ready for more French brilliance in the second 40.

As they did in the opening period, Argentina are on the front foot and Sanchez has passed up a penalty in order to go for the corner.

No messing around with Argentina’s maul effort there, they steamed their way to the line and the lock is on hand to score.

Sanchez knocks over the conversion and suddenly, we might have a game on here.

France 20 Argentina 10


There’s that man Penaud again, this time getting himself in between a beaut of a cross-field kick and a certain try.

Sanchez was hit late though, so we go back for the penalty and the Pumas go sniffing at the maul again.

This time around, it doesn’t pay immediate dividends and a knock-on sucks the wind out of the albiceleste attack.

Flag 53Mins

France can’t get out of their 22 right now and the penalty count is mounting. They’re up to 9 as Argentina go back to the corner for another crack at the maul…

TRY! France 20 Argentina 15 (Montoya ’53)


Sanchez misses the conversion after Argentina force another maul try, but right now it doesn’t feel like it matters.

The balance of power is tilting and mutterings about France’s second-half collapse against Wales in the Six Nations – a 19 -24 loss after leading 16-0 at half-time -  has replaced the awe for their attacking prowess.


Penaud is the latest to escape censure for conceding a blatant penalty. The wing leaps across a ruck and on top of the scrum-half, but Angus Gardner continues to show the utmost leniency.

This time, the Pumas don’t go for the corner. Urdapilleta is off the bench and nudges his side within a score.

PENALTY! France 20 Argentina 18 (Urdapilleta ’60)

20 minutes to go and this game is there for the taking.


It’s all gone wrong for France.

Damien Penaud is down getting treatment, the Pumas are supercharged and Urdapilleta is about to take aim at the posts with another penalty.


Ooof. Gardner looked at a replay of Penaud’s fall and it’s a very painful knee to the face after he comes down from a fair aerial clash.

So the penalty is still coming for Argentina…

PENALTY: France 20 Argentina 21 (Urdapilleta ’68)



France go right back up the other end and Dupont whips the ball back for Camille Lopez to take a snapshot.

DROP-GOAL! France 23 Argentina 21 (Lopez ’69)


This is far too much stress for a Saturday morning and the big game is still ahead of us.

Strap yourself for the final 10 minutes, because there is a knockout stage at stake here.


Every time it looks like Argentina are about to bang in a final nail, they whack their thumb.

Yards are flowing as their forwards go to contact, but Cubelli coughs up another intercept for Picamoles and that ultimately allows France to drain the clock with a maul and milk a penalty.

Ntamack, would you believe, has missed.

He cuts the shot left and wide of the posts.

Neither of these sides can close this one out.

Here’s the grandstand finish then. Penalty comes for the Pumas in midfield. and Bofelli will have a thump from all of 50 metres…


It’s high, it’s handsome… but it’s just wide left.

France celebrate, but they still have to restart this game. One last roll of the dice for Argentina.

Are France thinking of the past two Six Nations, comeback win for Wales, last-gasp loss to Sexton’s drop-goal.


They have forced the turnover and sealed an incredible rollercoaster of a win.

FULL-TIME: France 23 Argentina 21

And there’s a scrap on the field.

About the author:

Sean Farrell


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