Steve Borthwick signed off an encouraging World Cup after England edged Argentina 26-23 at the Stade de France to claim third place.
The Pumas paid the price for allowing England to build a 13-0 lead and while they fought back to control the second half, Borthwick’s men held their nerve to send scrum-half Ben Youngs into Test retirement with a bronze medal.
Their only defeat at France 2023 was the agonising 16-15 loss to South Africa in the semi-final.
“I’m delighted for the players to get the win after they have worked so hard,” Borthwick said.
“We won six games out of seven and lost one game by one point to the current world champions and current world number one, which shows the progress of the team. It shows how the team has built during the tournament.
“Playing finals games at World Cups is important. In the last two World Cups this group of players have played six finals games and won four of them.
“Clearly we want to be in the final and winning the gold medal. That wasn’t to be, but having finals experience has been important for this squad.
“The players should be very proud of their efforts and the challenges they have overcome. While things haven’t been perfect, they find a way to win games.
“Now we didn’t last weekend – we lost by a point, which will hurt for a long time. But when the players have found themselves in tough circumstances they have found a way to win.”
With all neutrals at the Stade de France supporting Argentina and with Red Rose fans making the trip across The Channel in small numbers only, England played in the most hostile atmosphere they have encountered at this World Cup.
Captain Owen Farrell was booed throughout and most noisily when he was lining up penalties and conversions.
“I wasn’t surprised. It’s usually like that here. When you play against France in Six Nations here, they don’t cheer you when you’re having a shot at goal!” Farrell said.
“It’s a bit different here in France to how it is over in England when a kicker’s taking a shot. But that’s what it is – just different. That’s no problem.”
Argentina head coach Michael Cheika felt that his Pumas did not get the rub of the green with referee Nic Berry, especially at the scrum.
“The game could have ended differently especially when you look at the final 15 minutes,” Cheika said.
“We did everything we could and we deserved more, both in terms of result and refereeing.
“Three or four scrums we were dominating and despite that we got no reward for it. For me that was very surprising.
“To be here on October 27 is very positive for the fans and for us. What is missing for us is excellence. It’s hard to accept losing this game and draw any positives from it.
“I believe that our trajectory over this World Cup will make Argentinians proud. We will come back stronger.”