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I remember a decade or two ago, back in the day when tries were worth four points and the Six Nations were only five, England played Argentina at Twickenham and trounced them about 80-odd to not-many. Sadly, those times are long gone now, the Argies finishing the last World Cup in third, one place behind us.

That’s higher than New Zealand and Australia.

Steve singing the anthem.

So this was never going to be a walkover, and after England’s shaky start last tournament, I’m a tad nervous about this match. Losing it and possibly coming second in the group would likely mean a Quarter Final against the hosts, or even a Kiwi-crushing French side. So I’d love a comfortable win (and at these prices I think 80-odd points would be a reasonable return) but frankly I’d settle for any sort of win, even if it’s entirely from Jonny’s boot.  

We approach the brand new Otago stadium with thousands of red and white supporters, and a surprisingly large number of opposition fans. Turns out that a considerable percentage of these are locals, presumably so inebriated that their colonial heritage has slipped from their shrivelled minds. However, I take this as a compliment of sorts, since they obviously feel insecure about a strong-looking England.

Is this our new scrum half?

After nothing less than daylight robbery in exchange for four cans of your finest Heineken, Sir, we huddle amongst the mixed crowd in our chilly-despite-the-roof seats. The teams troop out to approval-inducing music that is neither Karl Orff nor Song 2, and the anthems are sung. The English voices are reassuringly more vociferous than the non-English ones, but that turns out to be about the last we hear of them until Ben Youngs – who frankly should’ve been on from the start, although hindsight is a most useful capacity – scores the only try of the game, to massively relieved cheers. On the way to the ground I chatted to an ex-pat in a bowling-alley-cum-profiteering-ground, and joked that after all the exciting games of the last 24 hours, this one would no doubt end 9-6.

As Argentina lead 9-3 with 20 minutes to go, I wonder if I’m being disturbingly prescient.

However, we ultimately win 13-9, to an audible sigh from the Albion faithful. But it could’ve been so very different. Thankfully whichever curious virus that prevented good ol’ Jonny Wilkinson from converting most of his kicks – to increasing incredulity and calls for Toby Flood – also struck Contepomi. If the opposition kicker had been o’Gara or Carter, we’d be buried.

About to miss, again...

It’s funny that in 2003, all the other nations were saying that we only won the World Cup because of Jonny Wilkinson. After tonight’s woeful performance, I’m wondering whether this time we can win it in spite of him.


This guy was Definitely on drugs.


About PaulWFranklin
Writer, wanderer, whatever.

One Response to Phew!

  1. Pingback: England 16 – Scotland 12 « PaulWFranklin

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