England's preparations to defend their rugby World Cup title in 2007 were thrown into disarray yesterday, after they suffered a 25-18 defeat to Argentina at Twickenham.
In a week when star fly-half Jonny Wilkinson suffered yet another serious injury while playing for his club, his erstwhile national team-mates slumped to a new low, losing a record-equalling seventh game in a row.
Despite going into the half-time interval yesterday leading the Pumas 10-9, England managed to self-destruct in the second half, as they struggled to find any kind of rhythm or structure. The man playing in Wilkinson's position, Charlie Hodgson, was dragged off after his own role in an error-strewn team performance resulted in an elementary penalty miss. His young replacement, Toby Flood, made an inauspicious start to his Test career as he threw an inaccurate pass, allowing Argentina's man of the match, Federico Todeschini, to intercept before racing 70 metres to score. Last night a defiant Andy Robinson, the England coach, insisted he expects still to be in charge of the team for next week's Test against South Africa, despite calls for his resignation.
On England's abject performance, Robinson added: "We're very disappointed with the result. Credit to Argentina, they performed well today, but there were a lot of errors from us."
Dejected England captain Martin Corry insisted players were "comfortable" with the current coaching regime and that they themselves should take the blame for the losing run.
"No one else is to blame but the players and we've got to put it right," he said. "We are the ones knocking the ball on in contact. Our standard out there was awful. Everyone is devastated. We had our game plan but unfortunately we just couldn't execute it."Reuse content