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With England, Argentina and France seemingly battling it out for the two qualification spots, Pool C of the Rugby World Cup is only group in the tournament featuring three of the sport’s heavyweight teams.
England was the world champion in 2003 and has been one of the best teams during this World Cup cycle under Eddie Jones. Argentina, a two-time semifinalist, is now an established force and has only improved since joining the Rugby Championship in 2012 and having a team — the Jaguares — in Super Rugby. France, a three-time finalist, is typically inconsistent but has talented players throughout the side.
Here’s a closer look at Pool C, which also features Tonga and the United States:
Coach: Mario Ledesma
Captain: Pablo Matera
Best RWC Performance: 2007: Beat France in the bronze-medal playoff.
Last 5 RWCs: 2015-SF, ’11-QF, ’07-3rd, ’03-Group Stage, 1999-QF.
Outlook: The run of the Jaguares — a team featuring the bulk of the Argentine national team — to the Super Rugby final for the first time points the growing cohesiveness of the Pumas’ class of 2019 and should be a concern for England and France. Sprinkle in the talents of Niolas Sanchez at flyhalf and there is a chance they can go deep at the World Cup. Argentina has finished in last place in seven of eight editions since it joined the Rugby Championship, however, indicating that the team should still be considered an outsider.
Players to watch: Pablo Matera wears the armband and is a hulking presence in Argentina’s fearsome back row with plenty of power, great hands and a super offload. Sanchez, one of just three European-based players in the squad, masterminded the Pumas’ run to the semifinals in 2015 with his ball-playing skills at 10 and is the country’s leading scorer. Juan
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