- England trio on the honour of playing in front of passionate Argentinian public
- “It’s fantastic, I really enjoy that gladiator atmosphere” – Burns
Christian Wade and Freddie Burns consider it a privilege to have previously played in the passion-fuelled atmosphere of Argentinian rugby as England prepare for two Test matches in the country.
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster touched down this morning in Buenos Aires with a young, inexperienced group of players, eager to find out “who can and who can’t” in the caldron provided by all internationals in Argentina.
Take a look at England’s try scorers in the 40-12 victory over the Barbarians on Sunday – Burns, Wade, Marland Yarde, Kyle Eastmond and Billy Twelvetrees – and there are only five Test caps in total and three had not previously started a senior international.
But in terms of facing Argentina in Argentina, a number of England tourists can call on memories of playing in the 2010 IRB Junior World Championships, when England Under 20 faced the hosts in the opening game.
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Loose-head prop Joe Marler, fly half Burns, centre Jonny May and wing Wade all started the game in Rosario, and Burns recalls the insatiable appetite for rugby that poured down from the stands at the ground of Newell’s Old Boys, one of Argentina’s top football sides.
The Gloucester Rugby No.10, who scored 20 points in the Baa Baas victory, said: “It was fantastic, they’re a very passionate country and I’m one of those that really enjoys the gladiator atmosphere where it’s you boys in the middle of the pitch against thousands of Argentinian supporters.
“It can be quite hostile, but that’s something I really enjoy. It is a great country and a great place to tour.”
England won the game 48-22 with Burns’ Gloucester colleague May grabbing a hat-trick and Wade putting the final gloss to the victory with a try in the final minute.
The prolific London Wasps man outlined his excitement at returning to the country and his respect for the atmosphere whipped up by the supporters. “It’s a great place to go to, the people are awesome, like the food and steaks obviously,” said the 2013 Aviva Premiership leading try scorer.
“We played Argentina in our opening game so we had probably the biggest crowd of the whole tournament. The fans are really vibrant, loud and jeer a lot, so it was a massive challenge for us. I expect there’ll be a lot more people for these games, so it’ll be an even bigger challenge but I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting stuck in.”
After a game against a CONSUR select in Montevideo, Uruguay on Sunday, June 2, England move on to two Test matches in Salta on June 8 and Buenos Aires on June 15.
Mike Catt bagged 21 points when England played in Buenos Aires in 1997 and says he was charmed by the energy and intensity in the crowd. Drawing parallels with that team and the current England crop, the Attacking Skills Coach added: “I was amazed by the passion they had for the game, we went to some remote places like Tucuman where it was hard, it was tough and our first Test was in Buenos Aires.
“The crowd was jumping all over the place but it was an amazing experience. Amazing people, amazing country, I loved it.
“We had a great team, it was during the Lions time so like this time we had good, young, enthusiastic guys.
“But take Salta, it’s not Twickenham. It’s hostile and the more and more these guys can get exposed to it the better they will become for the experience.”