Five-try Henry Arundell provides X-factor as England put Chile to the sword

England 71-0 Chile: The 20-year-old wing became only the fourth Englishman to score five tries in a single match

Harry Latham-Coyle
at Stade Pierre Mauroy
Saturday 23 September 2023 19:17 BST
<p>Henry Arundell showed his natural finishing talent on a dream World Cup debut </p>

Henry Arundell showed his natural finishing talent on a dream World Cup debut

For Henry Arundell, nothing could break a sense of reverie. There are dream World Cup debuts and then there was this, Arundell becoming only the fourth Englishman to score five tries in a single match as Chile were put to the sword. Who knows what the future holds for a player still with years, but aside from a sip from the Webb Ellis Cup, this first experience of tournament rugby will surely not be topped.

While four of his tries were the simplest of scores, there were glimpses here of the sort of glorious gifts that have so many in English rugby so excited about the former London Irish star. Arundell has a sprinter’s speed and squats more than any other England back, combining his physical potential with a natural nose for the line evident from a try-scoring first touch in international rugby on England’s tour of Australia last summer.

“I think he played really well,” England head coach Steve Borthwick said of Arundell’s performance. “He took those opportunities - he’s a fantastic finisher. The message to him was to bring his point of difference onto the pitch, and he did that.”

Arundell’s quintet of tries here were part of 11 overall for England, finding attacking fizz and pop for the first time all tournament. Quite what it means for Borthwick’s side moving forward is unclear given Chile’s inferiority, the South Americans fading after an impressive first 15 minutes, but there were some impressive attacking gambols in Lille. Certainly, few of the fringe contenders did their chances of featuring again any harm.

Borthwick had picked a side packed with pace, from Theo Dan in the hooker shirt to Arundell out wide, with Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith, in theory, the perfect men to get the fast men fizzing.

Though the final margin was large, it did take England some time to get going. Their initial advancements augured well, manipulating the Chilean defence with some funky shapes as Farrell and Smith interchanged, but when the chances appeared inside the opposition’s 22, their new full-back was twice guilty of profligacy. A grubber for a vacant Arundell was not quite of the right angle, before Smith tossed a pass too far in front of an onrushing Max Malins, who had open pasture in front of him.

But Chile were battling to contend with England’s variety and vigour in wide channels, contesting hard at the breakdown to try and slow down Danny Care’s ruck ball but short of other stalling options. With England’s scrum on the march every time the forwards packed down, the breakthrough came just before the 20-minute mark, and Farrell floating a miss ball over Smith’s head to an open Arundell, who grounded in the corner.

After Dan had bored over from a maul, the hooker turned provider, gifting Arundell another simple score after Farrell’s quick tap. Bevan Rodd soon added the bonus point try.

Marcus Smith also impressed in a comfortable England win

Job done, England set about exhibiting a few of their more fancy frocks. After a loose offload from a Chilean counterattacker, there was space aplenty in front of Smith, who dribbled the ball through for himself and put his foot down to race away from Matias Garafulic to cap a five-try first half.

There was to be no repeat of the first half toiling. Chile prop Matias Dittus was sent to the sin bin after excavating a lifted Dave Ribbans dangerously as the England lock came down from the lineout, and after England elected to go to the corner again, Ribbans’s clean take led to Dan’s second maul score.

Arundell soon had his third, pursuing a grubber and picking up the pieces after a Chilean fumble. Speak to any of the Racing-bound flyer’s teammates for club and country and they’ll talk about his feats of athletic wonder on the training ground; here, his hat-trick was achieved without a single defender beaten. The chip and chase for the fourth gave a better idea of Arundell’s natural finishing talent.

By now, George Ford had joined Farrell and Smith on the pitch, with Borthwick exploring his options with the game won. The trio were all involved in an extended attacking movement that manipulated a flagging opposition, enabling Arundell to make another unimpeded passage to the line. Smith added a second of his own before Jack Willis burst through the centre to have the final word.

Can the wing now be left out? The likelihood of a return to the Ford/Farrell axis means England may have to reshuffle their backline against Samoa and beyond, with Joe Marchant potentially pushed out to the wing. But Arundell’s blend of speed and power from a compact frame could add the X-factor that England might need as they go deeper into this tournament.

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