OLIVER HOLT: England didn’t back down against Argentina, and George Ford was the star of one of the most heartfelt World Cup performances

OLIVER HOLT: England didn’t back down against Argentina, and George Ford was the star of one of the most heartfelt World Cup performances

OLIVER HOLT: England didn’t back down against Argentina, and George Ford was the star of one of the most heartfelt World Cup performances.

The Bleu de Chine bronze sculpture is located close to the Vieux Port.

It shows a man who has just arrived in Marselle with a case in his left hand.

His top body is mostly gone.

He is stomachless and lacks a right arm.

On their way to eat before the game, England supporters passed past it in the late-afternoon sun.

A few people used cameras to capture images.

They may have viewed it up until yesterday night as a representation of their team, a team that has played hollow men for far too long.

But everything changed in the Stade Velodrome’s crucible.

All of that changed when England’s opening World Cup match against Argentina saw blindside flanker Tom Curry dismissed after just three minutes, sending the Pumas running for cover.

It changed because an England team that had been lurching from one setback to another, controversy to controversy, defeat to defeat in recent months, delved deep inside themselves and discovered a pretty extraordinary defiance.

No appetite for a fight? The opposite of this was truer than anything else, not yesterday evening, at least.

If Curry’s firing was yet another sign of their lack of discipline, they responded to it in a way that was so courageous, clever, and cunning that it was unimaginable.

Yes, they were helped by Argentina’s dreadfully subpar performance, but that was also in part because the Pumas appeared so surprised by England’s refusal to accept their defeat and their own recent track record of mediocrity.

Instead, England raised herself.

And in spite of all the uncertainties and criticism they endured in the lead-up to this competition, they turned in one of their most inspirational performances at a World Cup.

Their hero was George Ford, who in the absence of Owen Farrell played like the general he so frequently is in club rugby but is only occasionally allowed to be with England.

Ford annihilated Argentina with three drop goals in quick succession in the first half.

When Farrell’s suspension ends following the team’s encounter against Japan the following weekend, should he immediately rejoin the lineup? Not based on the evidence.

Without him, England appeared wiser and more liberated.

Ford appeared unbound.

Ford was outstanding.

All 27 points for England came from him.

Courtney Lawes, the replacement captain, was also a titan.

The entire England pack was also, including Maro Itoje.

Despite all odds, this was a victory.

Additionally, it was a win for struggling England manager Steve Borthwick.

Prior to this game, Borthwick was ridiculed for being an ineffective teammate and leader.

As England’s coach, this was his turning point.

No one could claim that his players did not play for him last night.

Nobody could deny that they were influenced by his leadership.

England maintained its composure in this fiery stadium, fiery city, and fiery port that rarely shows mercy to the weak.

Nothing will be altered by this.

The level of play in this game was not comparable to France’s victory over New Zealand on Friday night in Paris.

They are, however, more likely to win Pool D as a result.

Moving forward, it will give them confidence for their quarterfinal matchup with Australia or Wales, who are possible opponents.

Momentum can rapidly develop from positive nights like these, and last night seemed like the sort of night that may at the very least serve as a foundation for improvement.

When Curry, whose comeback to the team had been such a cause for hope, collided head-on with Juan Cruz Mallia as Mallia took a high ball, England had already gotten off to the worst possible start.

At first, he received a yellow card.

It was quickly changed to a red.

Curry is the first member of the England rugby union to receive a red card at a World Cup.

In addition, he made history by becoming the first England number 7 to receive a dismissal in a World Cup match in France since David Beckham did so against Argentina in Saint-Etienne in 1998.

And the third rugby player from England to receive a red card since August.

It’s hard to believe how adeptly England can make their own problems worse.

Even if Curry’s red appeared harsh, it was difficult to avoid drawing comparisons between it and the way England had attempted to place the responsibility for the controversy surrounding Farrell’s punishment for a reckless tackle against Wales last month on everyone but him.

Consequences result from a refusal to accept responsibility for one’s conduct.

Everyone was shocked if England didn’t give up after such a humiliating defeat.

Britain did not give up.

Borthwick’s team unearthed stores of belief and determination that few knew they possessed thanks to some careless play from their opponents.

They mounted a remarkable reversal out of the depths of despair.

They performed as though they had an extra player instead of one less on the pitch.

Ford acted as though he were two guys, which is primarily why.

He led England’s resistance to capitulation by converting three outstanding drop goals in ten minutes to give England a 12-3 lead.

The English pack also behaved like lions.

When things appeared to be falling apart, England shown amazing defiance, and Ford took advantage of the situation.

After then, England remained unwavering, and Argentina had no response.

After a day of oppressive heat in a city that has twice in the past 25 years welcomed visiting England football teams with riots and conflagration, a city with an edge, a city crowded with Argentina supporters, a city that is not a comfortable place for the unprepared or the vulnerable, England finally appeared to be a team that had been restored to wholeness.

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