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Saturday, November 6, 1999 Published at 14:40 GMT

UK: Wales

Final played in carnival spirit

Jubilant Australian fans in Cardiff

The carnival atmosphere to the Rugby World Cup continued after the final whistle with an estimated 150,000 rugby fans celebrating in Cardiff.

The thousands who came to see Australia beat France filled the city's bars and restaurants, waving flags and scarves and offering renditions of Waltzing Matilda.

Australian captain John Eales receives the Webb Ellis Trophy
Many had begun their revelries in Cardiff the night before in anticipation of the match, which was won by Australia 35-12.

Those fans that could not get a ticket to the game, which were changing hands for £500, headed for venues with big screens to watch the match.

BBC Wales's Gareth Charles: "In Westgate Street, the pubs are overflowing - as they will be all day"
Prior to the game, an estimated 100 charter flights were expected to land at Cardiff Wales International airport bringing in thousands of jubilant French fans for the game.

Roads leading into the Welsh capital were heavy with coaches and limousines ferrying in fans and celebrities to one of the top sporting events of the year.

Australian full back Matt Burke: "Both games last weekend had spectators on the edge of their seats"
Train services into the capital were reported to be full to capacity, with some fans left behind at stations waiting for later trains.

Bars and restaurants in the city centre were overflowing with revellers soaking up the atmosphere.

Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prime Minister Tony Blair are among the guests of honour attending the final.

Mr Blair used the occasion to speak with the French President Jacques Chirac and French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on the issue of the beef ban. The Irish Taioseach, Bertie Aherne, was also in Cardiff.

The city centre was cordoned off to traffic in a well rehearsed police exercise.

Spectators lucky enough to get a ticket for the final were treated to pre-match entertainment in the form of child singing star Charlotte Church, Shirley Bassey and Bryn Terfel, Michael Ball, Rolf Harris and Welsh superband The Stereophonics.

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