England have taken a stranglehold on Pool D after delivering comprehensive victories over Argentina and Japan but, for different reasons, neither performance set the tournament alight.
Against the Brave Blossoms in Nice last Sunday they kicked for 1,175 metres, putting boot to ball 42 times, and while they secured the bonus point in humid conditions that made handling treacherous, the kick-first approach drew boos.
For Chile today, head coach Steve Borthwick has retained just three players in his starting XV to face the weakest opposition England will face in their World Cup group campaign, taking the opportunity to give some of his stars a breather, and inject some creative spark into the back line.
What is it?
England face Chile in their third Pool D match at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
The match will take place in Lille and is the first of the tournament in which Owen Farrell is eligible to play, following the end of his four-game suspension for a high tackle on Wales’ Taine Basham.
When is it?
England v Chile takes place today (Saturday, September 23), with the match kicking off at 4.45pm BST (5.45pm local time).
Where is it?
Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the home of French Ligue 1 football team Lille OSC. The stadium was renamed in 2013, following the death of the former Mayor of Lille and former Prime Minister of France Pierre Mauroy. With a capacity of just over 50,000, Stade Pierre-Mauroy is the one of the largest stadiums in France. Built in 2012, the stadium features a retractable roof and has solar panels and two turbines, which provide an electricity supply.
What is the latest team news?
Marcus Smith will make his first start at full-back for England, with Owen Farrell returning as captain at fly-half.
Borthwick made only two enforced changes in the second pool match against Japan but, with a six-day turnaround, has swapped out 12 players for his squad to face Chile.
Farrell returns having not played for England since being sent off against Wales in a World Cup warm-up match on Aug 12, while stand-in skipper Courtney Lawes is rested after the opening round victories against Argentina and Japan.
Scrum coach Tom Harrison confirmed the squad has a clean bill of health after full-back Freddie Steward recovered from a dead leg against Japan.
He is replaced by Smith, who has been deployed as a full-back from the bench in recent weeks but has never started in the position either internationally or for club side Harlequins.
As Telegraph Sport revealed, George Ford, who scored 41 points in the opening two matches, drops to the bench, with the coaching staff hoping to reprise the Ford-Farrell 10-12 axis in the second half, possibly with a third fly-half in Smith remaining at full-back.
On Thursday, Farrell praised Smith for how quickly the 24-year-old playmaker has transitioned to his new role. “Him being able to break games open and the athleticism that he has where he is able to beat people and go round people and use his feet like he does probably lends itself to doing that as well. I can’t speak highly enough of Marcus,” Farrell said.
“He impresses everybody every day at training. He impresses everybody with every aspect of his game. He has the ability to break games open, which he has always had, and he has the ability to control games. To do the right thing at the right time, but also unlock a game by creating something out of nothing. Not many people can go from doing that at club rugby or even European rugby to doing that on an international stage.”
Who is the referee?
South African Jaco Peyper will take charge of this one. Peyper is one of only two remaining referees from the 2019 knockout stages, when he took charge of Wales’s one-point victory over France in the quarter-finals.
What are England saying?
Billy Vunipola starts for England today for the first time since being sent off during England’s 29-10 defeat to Ireland in August for a dangerous tackle on prop Andrew Porter.
The powerful No 8 received a three-match ban – reduced to two for attending “tackle school” – meaning he sat out the final warm-up Test against Fiji and the rout of Argentina that opened the tournament before delivering a 29-minute cameo on his comeback against Japan.
Ahead of today’s Chile clash, the Saracens player said he was looking forward to getting minutes under his belt. “For me playing is huge. The more I can play, the better I am as a player. That’s a well-known fact for me personally, and from previous coaches,” he said.
“Hopefully I can go out there and play really well but until we get there, you don’t know.”
When Steve Borthwick named his World Cup squad, Vunipola was present as the only specialist No 8 but his absence has allowed Ben Earl and Ollie Chessum to deputise in the position.
Earl is currently in pole position to reclaim the jersey when England revert to their strongest XV in their final pool D fixture against Samoa, having been a revelation so far in the World Cup.
How to watch on TV
ITV has exclusive broadcast rights to show the Rugby World Cup in the UK. This match will be on ITV1.
Radio commentary will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How do I get tickets?
To find out if tickets are still available, click through to the tournament’s official ticketing website.
What is the recent history between the teams?
England have never played Chile in a men’s full rugby international.
What are the latest odds?
England to win: 1/500
Chile to win: 100/1
Odds correct as of September 23
What are England’s other pool matches?
Saturday, Sept 9 - England 27 Argentina 10
Sunday, Sept 17 - England 34 Japan 12
Saturday, Oct 7 - England v Samoa, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, 4.45pm