Nicolas Sanchez’s late try put the cherry on the cake for Argentina – Getty Images/Paul Harding
Wales lost their shirt numbers and their heads as they let slip leads of 10-0 and 17-12 to crash out of the World Cup quarter-finals against Argentina.
The Pumas were transformed from the meek side that lost 27-10 in their opening match to England here in Marseille. Roared on what felt like half of Buenos Aires, the Pumas raucously celebrated making their first semi-final since 2015 thanks to tries in the final quarter from prop Joel Sclavi and the old stager Nicolas Sanchez who intercepted Sam Costelow’s pass.
Wales will be haunted by regrets while their kit manufacturer will also have to launch an inquiry into how easily the numbers slipped off their shirts. Warren Gatland’s message to his side all week was that “we’re not ready to go home” but they left far too many points on the pitch, particularly during their purple patch in the first half.
Fly half Dan Biggar, playing his final match for Wales, had put Wales 10-0 up and they could have been out of side, only to concede four penalties in ten minutes either side of halftime. The most egregious offence was when Josh Adams’ shoulder checked Tomas Cubelli off the ball. Referee Karl Dickson, who replaced Jaco Peyper who suffered a calf injury, kept his cards in his pocket, but Wales too felt aggrieved when Guidio Petti escaped sanction for making contact with the head of Nick Tompkins.
Tomos Williams’ sniping try restored Wales’ advantage on 55 minutes, but they fell behind again when Sclavi was driven over from close range with 12 minutes to go. Even then Wales had opportunities to rescue the win, especially when Rio Dyer was tackled with two men outside him. By the time the ball was recycled, Louis Rees-Zammit was tackled into touch.
The final insult came when Sanchez, the 35-year-old replacement fly half, read Costelow’s no-look pass and had just enough gas in his old legs to get under the posts to start a huge South American party in Marseille.
Argentina outlast Wales in Marseille – latest reaction
06:09 PM BST
Elation for Argentina
Argentina fans inside the stadium – Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq
Nicolas Sanchez is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring Argentina’s winning try – Getty Images/Paul Harding
An Argentina fan inside the stadium cannot contain his emotion – Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq
05:59 PM BST
80 min WAL 17 ARG 29
Nicolas Sanchez allows the clock to go into the red beforer firing the ball through the posts to stretch the margin of victory.
Argentina are through to their third World Cup semi-final. For Wales, their journey is over.
The final score in Marseille: Argentina 29-17 Wales.
05:58 PM BST
80 min WAL 17 ARG 26
Wales cannot regain their composure. They kick straight into touch off the re-start, and the Argentina win a penalty.
05:55 PM BST
TRY ARGENTINA! 76 min WAL 17 ARG 26
As Costello wraps round, looking to put the ball out the back, it’s an unbelievable read from veteran fly-half Nicolas Sanchez. He steps into the gap and takes the pass one-handed before accelerating away. Dyer hares back after him, but there is not enough turf for him to catch up. Sanchez dives under the posts to score.
Argentina are surely now through to the semi-finals!
Nicolas Sanchez of Argentina scores his team’s second try – Getty Images/Cameron Spencer
05:53 PM BST
75 min WAL 17 ARG 19
Wales replacement prop Domachowski knocks-on an offload from Jac Morgan, but it appears to be a Wales scrum.
They play from the base but…
05:51 PM BST
75 min WAL 17 ARG 19
After Argentina clear, Dyer does well to keep the ball in-field. But with five minutes to play, Argentina win a turnover to force Wales to play from deep once again.
05:50 PM BST
73 min WAL 17 ARG 19
Wales have possession around half-way but they are given a taste of their own medicine by Argentina, who are dogged in defence.
But suddenly Dyer is through with options either side. He bounds up to the full-back, but Argentina scramble well to cut off his receivers. He offloads off the floor to Tomos WIlliams who feeds Rees-Zammit on the edge.
With one man to beat, the flying winger takes to the air, hoping to beat Moroni with the dive and reach in-field to touch down. But the defensive tackle is good from Argentina, in the Welsh winger cannot stretch far enough to reach over the line. Argentina line-out.
Rees-Zammit hangs his head after being tackled into touch – AP/Laurent Cipriani
05:46 PM BST
72 min WAL 17 ARG 19
Wales win a scrum penalty for Sclavi wheeling it round. From hero to zero for the try scorer. Costello seeks out the corner for Wales. Line-out just outside the 22 for Wales.
05:45 PM BST
71 min WAL 17 ARG 19
Argentina feed their backline from a scrum, but their timings are slightly off and it’s knocked on. Wales now have a midfield scrum from which to mount an attacking platform.
05:44 PM BST
Argentina hail experience
Veteran fly-half 35-year-old Nicolas Sanchez has just come on for Carreras to steer Los Pumas home with 10 minutes to go. Wales must dig deep to fight back.
05:42 PM BST
TRY ARGENTINA! 67 min WAL 17 ARG 19
Creevy controls the ball the ball at the back of another driving maul. There seems to be clear hands in the ruck by Wales, but it doesn’t matter! Replacement prop Joel Sclavi picks and goes right, burying under two Welsh defenders to dot the ball down. Argentina draw level!
And Boffelli keeps his composure to give them the lead. What a game!
05:40 PM BST
66 min WAL 17 ARG 12
This time Argentina break wide, crashing into Wales with wave after wave of attack. But still the Wales battlements hold firm. They are penalised again for off-side though, and Argentina will have another chance. Captain Montoya comes off for centuriono Augustin Creevy. Now there’s a man who likes a driving maul.
05:38 PM BST
65 min WAL 17 ARG 12
After the ball is called back for an Argentina penalty, they go for the corner and set a solid driving maul. It marches forward but is ruled held up. They will now have another go.
05:37 PM BST
Tompkins goes off for HIA
There will be frustration for Welsh fans here, as their team are forced to bring Tompkins off the field for a safety check. He shrugs to the referee as he goes off.
05:36 PM BST
“The blue player comes in to make a legal clear and he hits him in the head.
“Every head contact isn’t foul play.”
Nick Tompkins is caught in the head
05:36 PM BST
63 min WAL 17 ARG 12
It is Guido Petti who is potentially in trouble here. He’s flying into a breakdown late, not looking where he is going, and catches Tompkins square on the side of the jaw. It’s clearly high danger, but in his favour, Tompkins clearly drops significantly in height, and it looks to be an honest attempt at rucking.
Dickson appears to be applying some rationality to the decision. Although he hits the player in the head, it is ruled a rugby incident.
05:33 PM BST
63 min WAL 17 ARG 12
As they move into double figures in terms of pahses, they continue to meander left, but they are stopped in their tracks by another solid defensive set from Wales. But the TMO steps in for a review…
05:32 PM BST
62 min WAL 17 ARG 12
After first going right, they ship it back the other way, crabbing forwards with rambunctious one-up carries.
They play under advantage for Wales not releasing.
05:31 PM BST
61 min WAL 17 ARG 12
An unfortunate first touch at full-back for Rees-Zammit. He cannons a low return kick upfield, but the ball keeps rolling and eventually goes dead. Argentina with a central scrum outside the Wales 22.
05:30 PM BST
60 min WAL 17 ARG 12
It has been all Argentina so far this half, so that try will have come as some relief for Wales. They must now regain their composure – that will start with managing their kicking game.
05:29 PM BST
60 min WAL 17 ARG 12
For now, Wales have a scrum on the right touchline just inside their own half.
05:28 PM BST
59 min WAL 17 ARG 12
Liam Williams is going off after suffering another knock and is replaced by Rio Dyer. Dyer will likely go to the wing with Rees-Zammit slotting in at full-back.
05:26 PM BST
TRY WALES! 56 min WAL 17 ARG 12
A try from nothing for Wales! Dan Biggar runs a threatening line outside him as Tomos Williams snipes around the edge of the ruck. Argentina don’t have their guards set early enough, and Williams show a dummy to Thomas Gallo who buys it. From there, the Welshman is clean through and goes under the sticks to score. Wales reclaim the lead.
05:23 PM BST
56 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Wales’ passing, so slick in the first half, just isn’t quite going to hand at the moment.
05:23 PM BST
55 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Off the line-out, Argentina bludgeon into midfield, but the new man Eduardo Bellos is penalised for some over-zealous rucking at the breakdown. Seems a tough call – Jac Morgan is clearly in the ruck area when he is taken out.
Wales kick to touch and win their line-out to play into the Argentina 22.
05:21 PM BST
55 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Bello, Alemanno and Bruni come on for Argentina.
05:20 PM BST
55 min WAL 10 ARG 12
There’s a halt in play as both sides grab a drink. The camera pans to Argentina fans who are still bouncing up and down – they haven’t stopped since the national anthems!
05:19 PM BST
53 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Strong scrum Wales, but Tompkins loses it as he looks to punch into midfield. The field is broken up, which will play into the hands of Argentina. Eventually the ball is called back for Tompkins’s knock-on. The weather is humid in Marseilles which could be contributing the deluge of handling errors, but both sides will have to tighten things up to make the most of their opportunities.
05:17 PM BST
52 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Biggar kicks to touch and Argentina look to drive the line-out before breaking away through Isa. They then hoist one to the skies which goes down the throat of Jac Morgan and is kicked back. Argentina knock the return kick forwards, and Wales have a scrum on their own 10.
05:16 PM BST
49 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Wales have looked to play a structured kicking game, but Argentina – such natural strikers of the ball – are winning the battle every time at the moment. Wales must keep up the intensity of their kick chase if they are to wrestle back the momentum.
05:14 PM BST
47 min WAL 10 ARG 12
Boffelli is known for having a howitzer of a boot, and this one is from dead in front but well beyond 50 metres.
But he strikes it as sweet as you like. Starting outside the right upright, the ball bends back in and goes over with a metre or so to spare. Argentina take the lead.
05:12 PM BST
45 min WAL 10 ARG 9
Wales’ line-out withstands the pressure and they look to play on half-way. Liam Williams is down now for a hefty border-line hit from Mallia. The TMO takes a look at it but clears it.
Argentina then win a penalty as Kremer gets over the ball. A ferocious defensive set from Los Pumas.
With Liam Williams still down, there will be alarm bells ringing here for Wales fans.
05:10 PM BST
44 min WAL 10 ARG 9
Wales look to get back into their shape with Biggar hoisting one into the air. The kick and chase aren’t good enough though, and Mallia comfortably calls the mark. Los Pumas clear to touch to put the pressure back on Wales as Dewi Lake throws in for the first time.
05:09 PM BST
43 min WAL 10 ARG 9
Argentina put on a mighty surge, bludgeoning the middle of the Wales defence through Kremer and then Lavanini.
Dickson calls it back for a penalty and Argentina sensibly go for the posts again. With Wales’ penalty count stacking up, Los Pumas has narrowed the deficit to one point.
05:07 PM BST
41 min WAL 10 ARG 6
We are back under way here, with Argentina kicking centrally to compete. After Wales’ shaky start at the line-out, hooker Ryan Elias has come off for co-captain Dewi Lake.
Meanwhile, Santiago Chocobares has failed his HIA.
Argentina dribble a kick through to the left, and Dickson rules that Rees-Zammit has taken it into touch. Looked harsh – it seemed more like he was tackled into the ball as he slid out.
04:56 PM BST
The Prince of Wales is in attendance
The Prince of Wales and Patron of the England Rugby Football Union in attendance at Stade Velodrome – Getty Images/Cameron Spencer
04:51 PM BST
40 min WAL 10 ARG 6
I’m not sure what referee Karl Dickson is looking at. He says he has seen a wrap from Adams. The replays would show differently… That said, with the game poised as it is, it feels like the right call for a neutral viewer.
Argentina have a slightly easier shot at goal than they otherwise would have and narrow Wales’ lead to four points.
Emiliano Boffelli scores a penalty for Argentina – Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq
04:48 PM BST
Foul play review
The camera pans to Josh Adams, who looks very sheepish. There’s no excuse, it’s an unnecessary, cynical shot on a player off the ball.
04:48 PM BST
Foul play review
Josh Adams clearly puts in a late no-arms shot in on Lavanini with his shoulder. That’s what sparks the whole thing. Argentina then unnecessarily pile in.
04:46 PM BST
40 min WAL 10 ARG 3
With the clock in the red – it’s beginning to boil over. Argentina have a penalty but need to keep their discipline. There’s a player down, and it’s not clear what happened. It all started after a break from Argentina.
04:45 PM BST
39 min WAL 10 ARG 3
After a kicking exchanged, the Wales defence is levered open by Santiago Carreras who slips as he looks to round the full-back. He’s slightly isolated, and Wales manage to slow things down.
Argentina’s Santiago Carreras, left, busts through the Welsh defence – AP/Laurent Cipriani
04:44 PM BST
38 min WAL 10 ARG 3
Wales rebuff Argentina’s efforts at first, but they are penalised for going off-side. Argentina have a penalty in-front of the sticks and should really take the three.
Argentina legend Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe – now in the coaching set-up – signals from the sidelines to go for the posts. Boffelli duly obliges and Argentina get off the mark.
04:42 PM BST
37 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Argentina kick to the corner and carry into the guts of the Welsh defence. You can here the snap of bone on bone with every brutal challenge.
04:41 PM BST
33 min WAL 10 ARG 0
As Argentina chase a high bomb, Tomas Cubelli falls foul of the most abstruse rule in rugby. Being within 10-metres of where a kick lands and failing to retreat. Wales then have an opportunity at the other end of the field but are penalised for taking a player in the air. It looks harsh as the Argentina player jumped into the tackle.
After a quick ding-dong, Argentina win a scrum at half-way, from which they win a penalty. Wales prop Gareth Thomas is penalised for angling across. At least I think it’s Thomas, for some reason all of Wales’ numbers have begun peeling off their shirts.
04:38 PM BST
32 min WAL 10 ARG 0
After a couple of re-sets, Argentina’s scrum appears to crumble. But some generous refereeing from Dickson allows them to play on.
04:37 PM BST
Wales should be out of sight
Wales could and probably should be out of sight already because their attack is stretching Argentina so nicely. Unfortunately for Josh Adams, that was a seven-point drop from George North’s break because Wales had plenty of trailing support runners, including Gareth Davies, on the inside. Beyond the carrying of Facundo Isa, Argentina’s best asset is the noise of their supporters.
George North makes a half-break before offloading to Jac Morgan – AFP/Pascal Guyot
04:36 PM BST
Wales fans bouncing
Argentina had started so brightly before Biggar’s try. They had their fans bouncing in the stands and were dominating the early collisions. Before the scrum that led to Biggar’s try, they had made just six tackles to Wales’ 33. Against England they seemed to lose all confidence once they got a score behind in the opening match in Marseille. The stoppage caused by Jaco Peyper’s calf injury will at least give them time to regroup but they really need to get the next score
04:35 PM BST
30 min WAL 10 ARG 0
As Argentina kick back, they err to give Wales a scrum just inside the opposition half.
04:35 PM BST
27 min WAL 10 ARG 0
With Chocibares having just gone off, Cinti is forced to adopt the ball carrier role in the centre for Wales. He doesn’t quite get over the gain line, and this gives Morgan a chance to latch onto the ball. The Welsh captain is ruthless in this position and wins the penalty. He pumps the air with both fists. Biggar goes for posts from half-way but cannot capitalise, hooking the ball wide left.
04:32 PM BST
26 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Wales’ line-out is scrappy – that’s two in a row now – but the ball drops kindly for Wainwright. As the No 8 barrels forward, Mateo Carreras gets over the ball to effect a turnover.
04:31 PM BST
25 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Again, Wales flash the ball across the face of the Argentina defence to get it into the hands of Rees-Zammit. Los Pumas are man-marking the winger, forcing him to cut inside.
Wales are using inside runners deceptively well, offloading right on the line to put these players through the gap. This time George North gets over the gain line, and Argentina are penalised for taking a player off the ball.
04:29 PM BST
24 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Wales over-throw off the line-out, and Montoya is granted a carte blanche to run over Dan Biggar. The big hooker crushes the fly-half into the floor, but the Welshman does well to act as a speed bump. As Argentina break down-field, they knock-on to give Wales a scrum just inside their own 10.
04:28 PM BST
22 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Argentina give away another cheap penalty at the brekadown – this time from Cinti for going onto his hands as he looks to compete.
04:27 PM BST
22 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Argentina win the ball back and look to roll one into the far corner. WIlliams chases back then hoofs one down the line, finding acres of space behind the Argentinian defence. Carreras is quick to scramble though and re-asserts control. Argentina kick before Wales run it back.
04:26 PM BST
20 min WAL 10 ARG 0
Argentina are penalised for off-side at the breakdown just inside their own 10. Biggar makes no mistake with his shot at goal, and Wales stretch their lead.
Wales’ fly-half Dan Biggar (C) takes a penalty kick – AFP/Christophe Simon
04:24 PM BST
18 min WAL 7 ARG 0
Biggar is down again. With Chocobares on the charge, Biggar goes high, aiming to strip the ball. It’s a risky technique, both for him and the opposition player, and he is left clutching his ribs. He’s back on his feet again though to the relief of Welsh fans.
04:22 PM BST
What a shame for Peyper
What a shame for Jaco Peyper, who was one of three officials earmarked to oversee the final last week by JP Doyle on the Telegraph Rugby Podcast. Karl Dickson is into the fray. A curve-ball for both sides, now to see how they react.
04:21 PM BST
17 min WAL 7 ARG 0
Cobelli hoists up a wobbly box kick for Gareth Davies to field, but the oncoming scrum-half mistimes his jump – perhaps presuming he had less time than he actually did – and knocks on. Scrum Argentina.
04:20 PM BST
16 min WAL 7 ARG 0
Biggar is hit slightly late in the tackle and appears to be limping. Wales fans will hope he can run this one off.
04:19 PM BST
Referee goes off injured
There has been so much talk about injury worries this World Cup among the players, but its Jaco Peyper who has pulled up with an injury.
Just before play gets under way, Peyper tells both teams his achilles has blown out and he is forced to go off. One presumes that will be the end of the veteran South African official’s World Cup.
Karl Dickson enters the cauldron as replacement referee.
04:17 PM BST
TRY WALES! 14 min WAL 7 ARG 0
After taking it to the line and pulling the ball back a couple of times, Biggar comes right to the line and pulls it inside this time to George North, who makes a half-break.
North off-loads off the floor to Gareth Davies steaming through, who plays the two-on-one back inside to Biggar to go under the sticks. The Welsh fly-half pumps his fist in celebration.
04:15 PM BST
13 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Wales win their scrum in left-field and weave an intricate back-line move to get around the edge. Very reminiscent of the Irish that.
04:14 PM BST
12 min WAL 0 ARG 0
After a sting of phases on the left-hand side where Argentina appear to be making some headway, Argentina fling it out right but the pass goes loose and then goes forward. One downside of keeping the ball in hand this much is that they can lose their structure – this may play into their hands for the time being though.
04:12 PM BST
11 min WAL 0 ARG 0
A clear difference in approach so far is Wales choosing to hoist bombs in the air, counterpointed by Argentina’s willingness to play the phases. As a result, Wales’ tackle count is already up above 30.
04:11 PM BST
10 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Jac Morgan bursts into life. He’s got the full bag of tricks the Welsh captain – we’ve seen it already this tournament with his lung-busting run and kicking game against Australia. This time who puts in a wicked side step to make a half-break, but again the ball goes forward from the offload.
04:10 PM BST
9 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Wales put it through the hands to Rees-Zammit again, who steps inside to beat his man this time. As he tries to get his arms free though, the offload is hurled forward.
Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit is brought down by an Argentinian player – AP/Lewis Joly
04:10 PM BST
Attacking intent on both sides
I expected this to be edgy and bad-tempered but we’ve already had great examples of both sides’ attacking approaches. Wales’ simple yet effective attacking template was typified by Josh Adams roaming off his wing to release Louis Rees-Zammit with an excellent cut-out pass across the face of Liam Williams. And then the Pumas spotted space and countered from deep before applying pressure with punchy carrying around the ruck, tied together with offloads. Compelling start.
04:09 PM BST
7 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Wales are looking to get the ball into the hands of Rees-Zammit early on, but he is collared by Boffelli, who is working overtime in defence at the moment.
04:08 PM BST
6 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Boffelli hooks his kick across the face of the posts, so the scores remain all square.
04:08 PM BST
Argentina have pedigree when it comes to shocks
By Dan It is unlikely to be the game of the weekend, but for my money Wales v Argentina wins the anthem-off of the quarter-finals. Looked like there were plenty of tears among the South Americans, who can hopefully translate that passion onto the pitch. Of the final eight, Argentina have been by far the quietest team on and off the field, but they have a pedigree of producing shocks in the tournament. Gatland meanwhile has never lost to Argentina as Wales head coach.
04:06 PM BST
5 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Argentina, playing under advantage for offside, spin it wide left, but Wales win a turnover. The ball is called back for a Los Pumas penalty. 12 phases well-weather by Wales – particular thanks to some brilliant corner-flagging from Rees-Zammit. But Argentina look sharp early. They take a shot at the posts through Boffelli.
04:05 PM BST
3 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Sharp work by Argentina in the Marseilles heat, throwing a brace of neat off-loads to get in behind, working inside the Argentina 22.
04:04 PM BST
3 min WAL 0 ARG 0
After Carreras kicks up-field, Liam Williams hoists one to the skies and chases his own kick. They are looking to test Argentina in the air early doors. It is well-defended though and Argentina break up the right wing, carrying up to the Wales 22.
04:03 PM BST
2 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Wales play off the top of the line-out and immediately have an opportunity, putting it through the hands to Rees-Zammit on the right wing who chips ahead. It’s well-fielded by Argentina who send it back. Dan Biggar then hoists one up high to chase, but it’s knocked on by Wales. Argentina scrum on their own 22.
04:01 PM BST
1 min WAL 0 ARG 0
Referee Jaco Peyper blows his whistle, and the first 2023 World Cup quarter-final is under way in Marseilles!
Dan Biggar kicks deep left for Wales, and it is gathered by Boffelli. They truck it up for one phase before shunting it out to half-way.
03:59 PM BST
After a melodious introduction, in comes the clarinet. The Argentina fans are bouncing and a word has been sung yet! If there was the hint of a tear on Rees-Zammit’s cheek, there was no doubt about those welling up in the eyes of Mateo Carreras. Kick-off is next!
03:57 PM BST
A rousing performance from Wales – George North is belting it out as he becomes the first Welsh player to feature in four World Cup quarter-finals. And did I just see the glint of a tear in Louis Rees-Zammit’s eye? Heady days for Welsh fans.
03:56 PM BST
A moment’s silence
Before the anthems get under way, the stadium is asked to observe a moment of silence “in solidarity with all those who’ve been affected by terrorist attacks and all innocent victims”.
03:55 PM BST
The teams are out
Both teams are out – Wales in the scarlet jerseys and Argentina in blue and white hoops.
03:55 PM BST
Wales have been the steady, understated achievers at this World Cup and Warren Gatland will have spurred them by suggesting that nobody is giving them due credit. Argentina, on the other hand, were abysmal against England at this same venue in their opening fixture. The only way was up and they have been increasingly fluent. If their World Cup cycle can teach us anything, it is that anything is possible from this inconsistent side.
03:53 PM BST
Carreras vs Rees-Zammit
There has been much talk in the lead up to today’s clash about the battle up-front and at the breakdown. But one battle that truly has the potential to light up this round is the one-on-one duel between Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit on the right wing and Mateo Carreras on Argentina’s left.
Rees-Zammit and Carreras both play their rugby in the Premiership – the former for Gloucester, the latter for Newcastle Falcons. They are two of the youngest players in each of their teams – Rees-Zammit is just 22 while Carreras is 23. And they are both lightning fast. Indeed, “Rees-Lightning” is supposed to be able to run the 100m in a blinding 10.4 seconds.
Keep an eye on both wingers as this match unfolds…
03:43 PM BST
Former Argentina player Augustin Pichot
Its been a slow start. The first game against England was tricky. I think the sending off changed things. England under pressure had to perform.
And then Samoa, tough; Chile, scrappy and tough; and the Japan game, good and bad. Hopefully today is the day.
As you know, quarter-finals of World Cup are all or nothing. Anything can happen today. The game is structured by a strategic call by call [decisions], the refereeing is crucial.
Argentina have the talent and they have the years – with very experienced players. I think they have everything there.
I’m very proud to be in the top eight. It has been very challenging for Argentina. I think we have adapted really well and great talent. We are very proud of being in the eight, but we want more.
03:40 PM BST
Whisper it… the north could dominate this Rugby World Cup
For the first time in the history of the Rugby World Cup, we have seen the winners of all four pools coming from the northern hemisphere.
This represents a remarkable achievement given that traditionally the southern hemisphere sides have dominated previous World Cups. Only the England side of 2003 interrupted their stranglehold on the Webb Ellis trophy since 1987.
“The rise of the northern hemisphere sides is important for improving jeopardy and excitement. I believe it is great for the tournament. Has there ever been a more open World Cup?” writes Warren Gatland.
03:32 PM BST
Warren Gatland is back at his best
When it comes to coaches who aren’t afraid of lobbing a few grenades, international rugby isn’t short of choices.
With Rassie Erasmus trolling opposition fans on Twitter, and Eddie Jones asking the media to give themselves upper cuts, one grenadier who may at times go under the radar is Wales coach Warren Gatland.
But as each week of this Rugby World Cup has passed, he has appeared increasingly bullish about his side’s prospects, like a prizefighter who is becoming increasingly hard to beat.
His approach may be unconventional, but momentum and belief are funny things, and Wales right now are rolling.
“With Cheika potentially gone by Monday morning, Gatland really will be running low on verbal partners to dance with,” writes Ben Coles.
03:21 PM BST
Warren Gatland warns of ‘tough’ contest at the breakdown
We’ve spoken about the number of caps we’ve got on the side, the number of players over 50 caps, I think that makes a big difference.
We’re expecting a really tough contest at the breakdown so hopefully that combination [of Wainwright and Reffell] goes well.
[Argentina] have definitely improved .They would have been disappointed with their performance against England particularly with that early red card.
They’ve got better and better and they no doubt will come in here with a lot of confidence and support.
03:14 PM BST
Jac Morgan steps into Faletau’s shoes
Taulupe Faletau has been a main-stay of the Wales team for more than a decade. Playing a No 8, Wales use him to drop back as a runner returning kicks. He also hangs out in the wider channels to great effect, creating mismatches and often scoring tries.
He brings much-needed experience as one of just three centurions in the England squad, and even now at 32 he is still so athletic, rushing back to make a try-saving tackle against Australia in Lyon before getting back to his feet to steal the ball.
To say the tournament-ending injury he suffered against Georgia is a huge loss therefore somewhat stretches the art of the understatement.
“One factor which does soften the blow of losing Faletau to an extent has been how well Morgan has performed for Wales so far at his first Rugby World Cup,” writes Maggie Alphonsi.
02:56 PM BST
Argentina gamble on veteran scrum-half
Michael Cheika has made two changes to the Argentina side that beat Japan last weekend.
Facundo Isa is brought into the back row to replace Pablo Matera, who suffered a tournament-ending hamstring injury against the Brave Blossoms.
Meanwhile, scrum-half Thomas Cubelli replaces Gonzalo Bertranou in an intriguing selection gamble, with the Welsh-based Bertranou dropping out of the matchday 23.
Cubelli, who plays his rugby in France for Biarritz, was the undisputed first-choice scrum-half for Los Pumas between 2017 and 2021 but was sidelined after tearing a thigh muscle ahead of Scotland’s tour of Argentina last year.
Struggling with the same injury, the 34-year-old has played just 110 minutes of Test rugby this year – starting against Spain and Chile – and had to do a lot of physical work to get into condition before the World Cup started.
He missed Argentina’s opening Pool D game against England but came off the bench against Samoa and started against Chile where he played 46 minutes. But he was back in the stands last weekend against Japan.
“We know that we’re going to have to do something different, something special around the game on Saturday,” said Cheika.
“[Cubelli’s] overcome a lot of personal difficulty with injury over this last period, he’s stayed solid despite moments where it’s been tough for him and he’s really come back with a strong attitude and fully committed to the team getting as far as possible.
“Given the opportunity on Saturday, he will show the type of rugby player that he is. He’s tough, he’s committed and he loves playing for Argentina and I think that sums him up.”
02:43 PM BST
George North becomes first Wales player to make four World Cup quarter-finals
Wales make one change to the side that beat Fiji and Australia, with Tommy Reffell called up to the back-row and Aaron Wainwright switching from blindside flanker to No 8. He replaces Taulupe Faletau, whose tournament was brought to a premature end after suffering a broken arm against Georgia.
Dan Biggar returns at fly-half after sustaining a pectoral injury against Australia that ruled him out of Wales’ last two pool stage matches. He replaces Sam Costelow, who was brought into the starting line-up against Georgia after Gareth Anscombe pulled out during the warm-up. Anscombe is back running in training this week but has been been rested in favour of Coselow on the bench.
Centre George North, meanwhile, becomes the first Wales player to feature in four World Cup quarter-finals.
“It is an unbelievable achievement, especially when you realise it after how much hard work all of the boys in every team have to do for a World Cup – it is years in the undertaking,” North’s midfield partner, Nick Tompkins, said.
“So, for him to do it four times is pretty impressive. I am not sure I would be able to do that.
“It speaks volumes for the determination and kind of bloke he is. He is on the best form he has been on for a long, long time.”
02:27 PM BST
Starting XV: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Louis Rees-Zammit, 13-George North, 12-Nick Tompkins, 11-Josh Adams, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Gareth Davies, 1-Gareth Thomas, 2-Ryan Elias, 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Will Rowlands, 5-Adam Beard, 6-Jac Morgan, 7-Tommy Reffell, 8-Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: 16-Dewi Lake, 17-Corey Domachowski, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Dafydd Jenkins, 20-Christ Tshiunza, 21-Tomos Williams, 22-Sam Costelow, 23-Rio Dyer
Starting XV: 15-Juan Cruz Mallia, 14-Emiliano Boffelli, 13-Lucio Cinti, 12-Santiago Chocobares, 11-Mateo Carreras, 10-Santiago Carreras, 9-Tomas Cubelli, 1-Thomas Gallo, 2-Julian Montoya, 3-Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4-Guido Petti, 5-Tomas Lavanini, 6-Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7-Marcos Kremer, 8-Facundo Isa
Replacements: 16-Agustin Creevy, 17-Joel Sclavi, 18-Eduardo Bello, 19-Matias Alemanno, 20-Rodrigo Bruni, 21-Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22-Nicolas Sanchez, 23-Matias Moroni
Referee: Jaco Peyper
02:20 PM BST
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02:10 PM BST
Knockout stages get under way
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s coverage of today’s World Cup quarter-final as Pool C winners Wales take on Pool D runners-up Argentina in Marseille.
The trajectories of these two proud rugby nations have diverged in the past year. 11 months ago, Wales were in dire straits. Under the command of Wayne Pivac, they had slip to ninth in the rankings, having won 13 games, lost 20 and drawn one, including a Six Nations defeat to Italy.
Pivac’s tenure reached its nadir with a 13-12 loss to Georgia at the Principality, the ignominy of which proved to be the death knell of his rule and heralded the return of veteran campaigner Warren Gatland.
But despite a change of leadership, the team showed little sign of improvement, earning just one win in the 2023 Six Nations. At points, it looked as if off-pitch drama might engulf the national side as female employees accused the Welsh Rugby Union of sexism and the threat of pay cuts led to calls for a player walkout ahead of the England game. It was only after 11th-hour talks that the game went ahead.
But as Wales bedded in for their World Cup training camp, their were whisperings of a resurgence in the valleys. Word quickly spread of Gatland’s grueling training regimen as the old general sought to whip his troops into shape ahead of their re-emergence on the World Stage. In July, he wrote in these pages about the virtues of ‘stress training’ beneath an image of a cartoonishly muscle-bound Gareth Davies.
Whatever Gatland’s methods involved, they worked. Wales emerged from their summer chrysalis transformed from a potential laughing stock to be a complete revelation in France.
Few players have been more influential in this metamorphosis from hapless drifters to battle-hardened warriors than their skipper, Jac Morgan. The indomitable back row is the youngest captain at the World Cup, aged 23. But what he lacks in years, he more than makes up for in all-round skill and leadership.
After marshalling his side to a 32-26 win against Fiji, followed by a 28-8 victory over Portugal, he put the full gamut of his abilities on display in Wales’ record 40-6 win over Australia. One moment burying his head into the breakdown to steal a turnover, the next landing a 50-22 that even Antoine Dupont would be proud of. All the while sporting the bloodied nose of a Celtic warrior. “Tis but a scratch,” one imagines him saying in the manner of Monty Python’s Black Knight.
Wales rounded off their pool stage clean sweep with a gutsy 43-19 win over Georgia in Nantes last Saturday.
With Argentina, meanwhile, there is a feeling they have peaked too soon. In August last year, they scaled the dizzy heights of rugby’s Olympus to record their second ever win against New Zealand. This came on top of victory against the All Blacks in 2020 and all added to a feeling that Los Pumas may finally rid themselves of their underdog tag at this World Cup.
But since then, they have simmered. Despite pushing South Africa to the brink in July, The South Americans’ only victories against tier-one nations have come against misfiring Australia and England sides.
After an opening round defeat against England in the pool stages at the World Cup and an unconvincing display against Samoa, Argentina rallied to claim the second Pool D quarter-final berth with a 39-27 win over Japan in Nantes six days ago.
Wales have the upper hand in matches against Los Pumas, winning 15 and drawing one of the 22 tests between the two sides, including both past meetings at Rugby World Cups, in 1991 – their first full test meeting – and 1999.
Yet despite looking a little off the boil, Argentina’s side is stocked with veterans from 2015 – when they beat Ireland to reach the semi-finals – including centurions Agustín Creevy and Nicolás Sánchez, as well as Facundo Isa and captain Julián Montoya to name a few. Those players know what it takes to reach a World Cup semi-final and may not get the chance to do so again.
Win today, and they will book their place in the last four to face either Ireland or New Zealand in Saint-Denis.
“They have good defence, good fixed formations. Our first plan is for them to stop us and not us to stop them,” said Argentina head coach Michael Cheika.
“If we can impose our strategy, which I think is good for this match, we can have some advantage. If they impose their strategy, the afternoon may be longer.
“Being in the quarter-finals gave us a boost. The most important thing is to know what we want to do and then be able to carry it out.”
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar said: “For me, I am not thinking about anything, I don’t want this to be my last day as a rugby player for Wales.
“For those of us who will be finishing after the World Cup there will be a bit of extra pressure, but it is also a huge motivation.
“I definitely don’t want my last day as a Welsh rugby player to be losing a quarter-final.”
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