Argentina not ready to over-react after alarming loss to England in Rugby World Cup opener

Argentina's Juan Martin Gonzalez reacts during the Rugby World Cup Pool D match between England and Argentina in the Stade de Marseille, Marseille, France Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

LA BAULE-ESCOUBLAC, France (AP) — Argentina will not over-react despite producing a hugely underwhelming display in its loss to 14-man England in their Rugby World Cup opener, Pumas forwards coach Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said on Sunday.

England played with 14 men from the third minute in Marseille follow Tom Curry’s red card but still inflicted a 27-10 defeat on Argentina, which was its own worst enemy in conceding 13 penalties and amassing 15 turnovers.

The result has already put Argentina on the back foot in a pool that also includes Japan and Samoa as teams who could realistically advance.

Yet Fernandez Lobbe, the team’s former star flanker, was taking a measured view.

“It would not be good for the leadership to change things,” he said. “It was a hard blow and it must be taken on the chin.”

Before the tournament, Argentina was many people’s favorites to win Pool D, given England's poor recent form and the Pumas having beaten Australia away in July and had two close games against South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

“If one thinks that in two years we showed confidence and lost it by one game, then it would not be a solid team. It is a solid team, with solid players,” Fernandez Lobbe said from the team's training base near Nantes on the western coast of France.

“Now, it is understanding why the image that the team gave was one of a lack of confidence. There are three games left to build the dream that this team is chasing. It is not hiding or putting aside errors. This is a team that sticks together and looks for solutions.”

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AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby