Five-star Henry Arundell shines on World Cup debut as England cruise past Chile

Arundell helped himself to five tries on his World Cup debut
©Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

It was a game where we were supposed to potentially learn a few things about England, but instead we learned absolutely nothing about Henry Arundell - in the best possible way.

Steve Borthwick's side may have cruised to a 71-0 victory over Chile but the evening belonged to the supremely talented 20-year-old who helped himself to five tries in Lille.

His performances in the green of London Irish, an international try on debut with his first touch against Australia and numerous highlights reels of him doing what he does best was already a strong body of evidence to excite England fans, and now he has shown his quality at a World Cup.

Arundell and co. were never in any danger against Chile as Theo Dan and the impressive Marcus Smith (2) - as well as Bevan Rodd and Jack Willis - all helped England claim a third win in a row for the first time in two years.

After what must have felt like a frustrating few weeks watching from the sidelines, Arundell's exploits surely put him in the frame to feature from the start when the quarter-finals roll around while Smith's showing at full-back will be another main takeaway for Steve Borthwick as his energy and endeavour to try and make things happen was noticeable throughout.

"I think everybody knows what talent Henry has got," said captain Owen Farrell. "I think he has shown it before today! A big thing Henry showed today was that he got after everything in between as well. He didn't just finish tries today.

"He got balls back in the air. He chased hard and worked hard for the team and ultimately he got his rewards off the back of that and does what he does unbelievably well."

"You have to give immense credit to Chile," added Borthwick. "They played in a manner that was courageous, incredibly committed and made it very difficult for us. Clearly, I'm pleased with the way the team worked through a patch that was a bit sticky. But ultimately, we played some very good rugby."

As Borthwick alludes to, in the early stages, it all looked a bit "sticky" and forced from England which was probably best summed up by Max Malins being unable to gather a looping pass from returning skipper Farrell with the line at his mercy.

It was Chile who then looked more enterprising with some lovely interplay allowing skipper Martin Sigren and then lock Clemente Saaverda to have a go at the England defence.

The good number of Los Cóndores fans were making themselves heard once again as England struggled to build sustained attacks with any cohesion.

But despite Chile's encouraging start, it was a lack of execution which jolted England into life as a misplaced line-out fell to Billy Vunipola and the move ended with a nicely weighted pass from Farrell to Arundell who strolled over for his first World Cup try.

Farrell missed the conversion but was on target four minutes later as Dan barged over from close range before Arundell and then Rodd notched two quick-fire scores.

Like against Samoa, Chile's penalty count was harming them (eight in the first half) but they could do nothing to stop Smith just before the break as he latched on to his own brilliant grubber kick to dive over in the corner. The moment of magic the game was crying out for.

By the interval, the match as a contest was over and Chile's evening was made even more difficult when Matias Dittus was yellowed card four minutes after the restart.

England continued to tick things over as Dan took advantage of the extra man to score his second before Arundell pounced on a kick through from Elliot Daly - which wasn't gathered cleanly by the Chile defence - to claim his hat-trick. 

A raft of changes from the England bench turned the game into a disjointed affair but Arundell waved his wand to score a sumptuous try on the hour as he collected his own kick on the bounce after chipping Francisco Urroz.

The Racing 92 man was certainly taking his opportunity and try number five came on 69 minutes as he latched on to Smith's pass to dot down and cap a wonderful debut. 

The winger's name was now being sung to the tune of 'Wonderwall' by Oasis by pockets of England fans as Player of the Match Arundell moved to top try scorer for the tournament on his first appearance.

Arundell is now the fourth player to score five tries or more in a men's World Cup match, and those who watched the 20-year-old before today will know there is still so much more to come from the promising youngster.

Smith - after combining well with Ben Youngs - got England's 10th before the impressive Willis went over to round off a professional job for England.

"I think he [Arundell] played really well and he took his opportunities brilliantly," Borthwick said. "He is a fantastic finisher and the message to him is to bring his point of difference on the pitch, back himself. He certainly did that. I think we also have to credit the people playing on the inside of him to create those opportunities, I thought today you saw a great blend."

"I can’t believe it to be honest," added Arundell. “Surreal. How the hell did that just happen? But it shows a real team performance. We have lots of depth and we want to score tries.

"The aim [in attack] hasn’t changed much. It’s about the team we’re playing, the circumstances and the conditions. Steve always says ‘find a way to win’. It was pleasing.

“You can’t get too ahead of yourself, though. Focus is on Samoa now, to win the group. The future can be whatever you decide it to be.”

Next for England is Samoa in two weeks' time before they (all but confirmed) head to Marseille for the quarter-finals. With Borthwick utilising his squad against Chile, it will be interesting to see his selection for the final pool game but one thing is for sure, Arundell will now be a the forefront of his thoughts - if he wasn't already.