Rugby World Cup: 14-man England Stuns Argentina, Australia Wins, and Ireland and Italy Romp

AP Photo/Daniel Cole
England’s George Ford reacts after kicking a penalty during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Argentina in the Stade de Marseille, Marseille, France Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.

PARIS (AP) — George Ford kicked everything, including three first-half drop goals, to give 14-man England a pressure-relieving 27-10 win over Argentina at the Rugby World Cup in Marseille on Saturday.

England was down a man from the opening minutes after flanker Tom Curry’s head clash with Juan Cruz Mallia resulted in a red card.

But England took nearly every chance that came its way from a sloppy Argentina to start Pool D with a big win no one saw coming. Flyhalf Ford, who was standing in for suspended captain Owen Farrell, also landed six penalties to collect all of England’s points.

Argentina replacement Rodrigo Bruni scored the only try of the game in the last minute when it was already over.

England faces Japan next Sunday, while Argentina faces Samoa.


Ben Donaldson justified his surprise selection at fullback with two tries and 25 points in Paris as Australia earned its first win this year.

Donaldson used his first test start at fullback on only his fourth test appearance to nail six of his seven goalkicks.

The Wallabies’ five-test losing run attracted doubts before a tough Pool C match with Georgia, but four tries and a bonus point at a sweltering Stade de France also took some heat off coach Eddie Jones, who hadn’t won his last seven tests dating to last year.

Georgia put away the boot at halftime and found holes in the Wallabies’ defense in the second half but could score only two tries while bombing at least three more.

The Wallabies next face Fiji, while Georgia have two weeks before playing Portugal.

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
Australia’s Ben Donaldson runs to score during the Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Georgia at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.


The 82 in Bordeaux was Ireland’s highest Rugby World Cup score, and second highest all time. Ireland also extended its record-long winning streak to 14 tests over the last 14 months.

Romania stunned by scoring the first try after three minutes to scrumhalf Gabriel Rupanu. The Oaks were game to the end but Ireland’s attack was in another class and showed admirable ruthlessness. Its 12 tries included braces for captain Jonathan Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Bundee Aki, and Tadhg Beirne.

Sexton was under the spotlight in his first match in six months after injury and suspension, and he was superb. In 66 minutes of work, he scored two tries and slotted seven of eight goalkicks for a personal haul of 24 points, his most ever in 114 tests. That tally took him past Ronan O’Gara for most World Cup points by an Irishman, and closed him within nine points of O’Gara’s Ireland points record of 1,083.

Romania has South Africa next. Ireland has Tonga.

AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
Ireland’s players celebrate at the end of the Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Romania at the Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.


Italy made a bonus point-winning start against a Namibia team that made the Azzurri sweat for every point in Saint-Etienne.

The scoreline was Italy’s best ever against Namibia.

But the seven-try victory with perfect goalkicking from Tommaso Allan was given a flattering sheen by three tries in the last nine minutes when Namibia’s fitness finally flagged.

This was Namibia’s 12th test in four years. This was Italy’s 12th test in 10 months. But first-game nerves, the baking sunshine, and the Namibians’ never-say-die attitude stymied Italy from proving its greater experience for the first hour.

Namibia has New Zealand next Friday in Pool A. Italy has 11 days to its next match against Uruguay.

AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
Namibia’s Wian Conradie, left, and Italy’s Paolo Garbisi challenge for the ball during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Italy and Namibia at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint-Etienne, central France, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.