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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 October 2007, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
England v South Africa countdown


By Sam Lyon


England fans in Paris
Can England's knights overcome the South African Springboks in Paris?

And on that note, I shall bid you all a fond au revoir. This scene-setting commentary will now end, and Phil Harlow will bring you all the action from the Stade de France before, during and after tonight's mahoosive match. Keep the SMSs and 606 chat coming - it's all about the live action now!

1700: "It is already pumping outside the Stade de France. The sun is starting to sink and all you can see for miles is an enormous pile of fancy dress, green Springbok shirts and St George's crosses. We're only hours away now... bring on the action!!"
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Paris

"Update from JR and the barca stag party: after a heady afternoon of drinking, discussing Latin grammar and other boorish behaviour, we are off to the George and Dragon in about half an hour to get bedded in. I have to say that we haven't felt much atmosphere out here yet, but we will make our own in the G+D. Come and say hello to the centurion if you're in there. COME ON ENGLAND!"
IAH, Barcelona via text

1654: "The trains going to the stadium are heaving already and tempers have been getting frayed - not between the fans but with the French commuters as supporters struggle to get on the trains. Tom and I were in a carriage full of Springbok fans and they were in fine voice - plenty of songs in Afrikaans, many of them regarding England. We don't know what they were saying but we reckon they were rude."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

"Emotional hedging is the solution. Bet on the Boks then you'll have a few extra quid to offset the emotional emptiness if England lose."
Purple Barry via text

"Habana? The name itself is destined to be smoked!"
David, Andover via text

"I'm afraid to say that I've had to pause for water, burger and chips. This is in accordance with the rules agreed with my Boer colleagues who are flagging also. Stands at eight drinks each and I'm out on my feet. Hoping the food will sustain me. Never give up, never surrender. I'll throw a few more down even if I throw them straight back up! Really wish I hadn't started!"
Dave with watery mouth, Bham via text

"Feel too nervous to watch. Probably will tape it, watch Spiderman 3 on DVD, check BBC for the result and then God willing watch the whole match into the early hours in delirium. Come on England, give me a late night to remember."
Graham, Tadworth via text

1637: More rugby-fans-are-better-than-football-fans ammunition from the press officer for the French police, who says: "We've had no trouble here at all. It's not the same as football fans. Everyone is in good spirit.

"There is not too much drunkenness - maybe later but not yet. At this time there are no problems related to the rugby in Paris."

"Can't wait for game to start - the vodka is now flowing nicely and I've sent the missus for extra supplies. Come on Jonny! Also, can we have an update on Dave's drinking against the Springboks?"
Tex via text

A Kiwi fan trying to sell tickets
Kiwi ticket touts are swarming around Paris
1624: "Frantic scenes in Paris as thousands of Kiwis attempt to offload tickets and thousands of Brits work out whether they can bung a month's salary on 80 minutes of nervous tension. Prices are see-sawing like the Dow-Jones and it's all a question of whether you buy at the right time or get your tactics spectacularly wrong."
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Paris

"What about ideas for nicknames for our glorious team when they win. My first idea is Jonny 'the bra' Wilkinson cos by tonight he'll have a pair of desirable twin cups. Anymore for anymore?"
Clive, Notts via text

"Wearing two England shirts with a spare ironed in case of Guinness emergency. Children at mother in law's, wife in bed with cold, fridge full of beer and cupboard full of crisps... COME ON LADS - BIG PUSH FOR JASON!!!!"
charlton_chap on 606

"Congratulations Pinky and Emma! It's a sign - I predict England to win 15-12, the Boks will bottle it!"
Toby via text

"Emma J's dad here. No daughter of mine is marrying an Englishman! Get yourself a Welsh stallion girl!! Only joking kid, congratulations."
Emma J's dad via text

Steve Thompson
1607: "If it's down to the form book, South Africa are the only side to have performed as they should do this year. But it's been a weird tournament so I wouldn't be surprised if England win it."
World Cup winner Steve Thompson

"I saw a couple walking through Newcastle this morning with their baby in a pram, the woman wearing a South Africa shirt and the man an England shirt. Tonight could have a rather large bearing on the shirt that child wears in the future! Come on England!"
Simon, Newcastle via text

1555: Proposal update! "This is Emma replying to Pinky. Just to say yes I will marry you. I cant wait. This is the best day of my life! God bless you BBC and God bless England! x"
Emma via text

"I'm still wearing the same, unwashed shirt from the 2003 final."
Anon via text

Really?! You've been wearing the same, unwashed shirt for four years Anon?! That's commitment above and beyond in my book...

1549: "Watching the Arsenal-Bolton match surrounded by rugby fans as another round of 'Swing Low' begins. After weeks of watching rugby, it is really odd seeing all these players rolling around on the grass."
BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

"South Africa have just been beaten in their cricket match against Pakistan. Seems it's just not their day."
Andy via text

1535: Loving the superstition chat rolling in on text (81111) and 606 - but I think I may have found the strangest already. Proposals. See below...

"Just hope you print this on this special day. I want to ask my darling girlfriend Emma J to marry me. Love Pinky. Go England."
Pinky via text

Is he serious? Will she say yes? What has this got to do with the rugby? Who knows...

England supporters
According to our men in Paris, England fans are aplenty in France
"Whilst I admire the British Bull-Dog attitude and stiff upper lip approach it's time to pop the bubble! Despite hijacking 3 South Africans in to your team I just think this is a bridge too far for your "old boys"!! It won't be another 36-0 but the Boks are superior in almost every department (except fly-half) and Johnny won't get enough ball to be able to boss the game! Boks to win by 15 points!!!"
Stuart, Bromley-by-BOK via text

"Third nervous trip to trap two, Five hours to go... Medic!"
Anon via text

"Ever since the England-Samoa match, I have worn the same socks, only drank with my left hand AND have brushed my teeth for 2 minute and 3 seconds (2003) :D"
ManU9TimesChamps on 606

"I had a friend at school who had a rugby-based superstition. He used to wet himself at kick-off when the opposition pack were charging towards him. Well, he claimed it was a superstition anyway. For those who are interested I've switched to shorts - now had four pints and four shots. The Boks are on their 7th pint so technically I'm ahead. A change in tactics is a sign of a winner. Come on the Lions!"
Drunk Dave, Bham via text

"I have the greatest respect for Nick's teacher below - he is South African. I have lived in the USA for 20 years but I'm English and if England play the USA at anything, I'm right behind the English side."
zznewyork on 606

1517: Right, who out there is sporting their lucky pants? Who's drinking solely with their right hand? Who has refused to shave since England beat Samoa? I'm talking superstitions people, the dastardly little rituals that we must all go through ahead of important occasions - because they don't get much bigger than this. If you're short of inspiration, of those likely to feature tonight...

  • Mike Catt - touches his ear when the camera pans for the national anthems to say hello to his parents
  • Jason Robinson - has a strict routine on how he puts on his strapping and likes to head out of the tunnel first
  • Mark Regan - is always last out of the changing rooms
  • Mark Cueto - eats the same meal of beans on toast, puts his left boot on first and ensures he is last off the coach and last out the changing rooms (fight with Regan ensues...)
  • Matt Stevens - wears white laces in his boots
  • Olly Barkley - goes to the toilet before a match to settle nerves and avoid being "caught short"

    "Had a heated chat with a South African school teacher in Northwood who has lived and worked in England for over 15 years but will be cheering on the Boks tonight. I said, support the country that supports YOU! He just smiled."
    Nick, St Helens school via text

    "Dave Bham, I'm disappointed in you! Save face and get stuck into a bottle of gin and climb aboard the Sweet Chariot."
    Drew via text

    1458: After an excellent performance in Friday's press conference, England coach Brian Ashton again cut a relaxed, confident figure on BBC Radio 5live this morning chatting about the game.

    Brian Ashton
    "Look, if you'd have asked me five weeks ago if I expected to be here - I'd have had to tell a white lie and say yes. But make no mistake we deserve to be here and we're not here to lose."

    With just five hours to go until kick-off now, I wonder how relaxed Big Ash is now...

    "Is anyone watching the game in England, or is it just an obsession with telling people where you are? 'I'M ON THE TRAIN!'"
    Reverend_Weasel on 606

    "Getting myself in the mood by listening to Winston Churchill's greatest war time speeches and will be cracking open the first tin shortly. Not long now until we are making history. P.S. Can you please tell Nobbie and Di to get extra French bread in for the half time interval."
    Paddy (a proud Englishman) McGowan via text

    1447: "News from the toilet of the Frog and Princess - 'Sweet Chariot' has been ditched as the official England World Cup song - I am hearing strains of Kenny Rogers' The Gambler. Everyone in an England shirt is singing it - I've yet to decide whether I love or loathe it."
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs, while on a frantic hunt for a tobacconist, in Paris

    "That's it, I cant take anymore, my nerves are shot to bits. It's time to start drinking beer, much to my long suffering girlfriend's disapproval."
    James, Cambridge via text

    "As they say in the States; 'offence wins games, defence wins championships'. Come on England! They don't like it up 'em!"
    Martyn, Rotherham via text

    1433: "On the Metro on the way to the Frog and Princess there was a man who looked remarkably like Kenny Rogers. Unfortunately, he wasn't wearing an England shirt or singing the Gambler, which is a shame because obviously that's all our Kenny does."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "Started drinking at one o'clock. Was befriended by three English based South Africans. They challenged me to keep up with their drinking pint-for-pint. Obviously had to take the challenge on to save face. I'm going down 6 to 3 at the moment. In a moment of alcoholic clarity it dawned on me that this might be some kind of prophecy. Sorry lads, sometimes a big heart is just not enough. I've let England down."
    Dave, Bham via text

    Three pints? You took on a drinking challenge with some Boks and are struggling on your third pint? Dave, Bham, you've not just let England down...

    Brian Moore
    1424: "If this comes down to a kicking duel there is only one winner and that's Jonny Wilkinson. I've got a feeling - I don't know why, I don't think anyone could say why - but I'm backing us."
    Former England hooker Brian Moore on BBC Radio 5live

    "I was much happier in the run-up to both the Australia and France games...we didn't stand a chance so I could watch happily without the burden of expectation. Now, oh God! We stand a real chance of making history. I haven't been this nervous since my wife got her new credit card. ALLEZ LES BLANCS!"
    andyhib101 on 606

    "Getting excited now - just hours away. Me and my brother going to the father in laws for the match, the lager is in and the sound will be loud. Come on boys, lets have some bull dog spirit tonight and leave the Boks crying all the way home, what a win it could be."
    Ben and Nick Auty, Hartlepool via text

    "At a party to watch the game tonight, going to Tunisia at 3am tomorrow morning. Heavens forbid, I will be wrecked on the flight if we win! Come on England!!!"
    Ainsy, Cheltenham via text

    Zola Yeye
    1403: South Africa team manager Zola Yeye has spoken out ahead of the final, claiming victory in tonight's final would be "massive", adding: "As a young, transforming nation, anything that makes us to be one as a nation means we can start believing in this country."

    And on the issue of the number of black players in the Boks line-up, Yeye admits: "In future, we need a South Africa team, or teams, that are a microcosm of our society. Young ones must be given an opportunity to benefit from playing for their national team."

    "Just off to get my beers in for tonight - round a mates with a load of loyal expats in Milan, plus one Aussie (with English parents and a British passport) supporting the Safas! Come on England!!"
    PartiMan on 606

    1348: "Maybe it's the parent in me, but I'm starting to worry that a few of these England boys are peaking too early. I've just seen a group of lads in Jesters' hats, obviously still feeling the effects of last night, and they're tucking back into the lager as we speak. With over six hours to go until kick-off, it's undoubtedly going to get messy."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "It's spelt 'cordiale' Raymond! Hopefully we'll be toasting England with something stronger than lime cordial tonight..."
    Anon via text

    Brian Moore
    1341: "Mark Regan's story is a remarkable one - a couple of years ago he was nowhere in the game and now he's playing a World Cup final. I mean, he was literally dead and buried and now, erm, well not literally dead and buried obviously..."
    Former England hooker Brian Moore on BBC Radio 5live

    "I think all Parisians are behind England, which will be a first! Lots of England shirts around, very few green and golds!"
    Ben via text

    "Don't know about the rest of you but I think it's definitely brown trousers time."
    Hows_My_Driving on 606

    1332: "Gare du Nord - a man in an England shirt has just rifled a drop kick straight in the face of an enormous passing South African. After a slight look of befuddlement, the Bok fan smiled, hugged the Englishman and planted a kiss on his forehead. That's why rugby is better than football - Fact."
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Paris

    "It would be a shame if someone "cheated" to stop JW - surely winning the world cup in rugby is all about doing the right way as well, otherwise we might as well watch the footy!"
    stewz1970 on 606

    "Just got a text off a Scot. Here it is in full: "Rob, can you get hold of an England top that would fit me? Large, or Xtra Large. I'll wear it with my kilt for the match tonight! Greg." Lovely stuff."
    Rob, Skipton via text

    Raymond Blanc
    1326: French chef Raymond Blanc, who is travelling from his Oxfordshire restaurant to Paris to support England in the match, tells BBC News 24: "As France has been knocked out, England being my adopted country it makes sense, OK?

    "This wonderful entente cordial, OK, which is very quirky, very odd but it works, OK, and I think that today most of France will bat for England, I think so."

    Erm, OK Raymond, OK...

    "Stuck on an Oil Rig offshore Australia (for 2003 I was on an oil rig in Oman!) Two England supporters and 70 or so 'sore-losing' Australians (such fun!). Not a South African in sight. Unfortunately we can't get the only TV channel that's showing it here so we're gonna call up my mum in Hemel and listen to the 5Live commentary on the speaker phone!"
    Ed & Austen via text

    1319: "The streets are filling up nicely now - a couple of England fans have just unveiled a huge St George's cross flag with "World Champs 2003" on it, and their appearance sparked a loud and hearty rendition of Swing Low - it will not be the last time we hear that. If the scenes round here are anything to go by - the Boks will be massively out-numbered come game time tonight."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "If I were the Boks coach I'd put a lot of pressure on Jonny Wilkinson early on - don't be surprised if there is a yellow card for someone being a bit too enthusiastic in the tackle!!"
    Signore Martino Carlo Citta del Giovanni on 606

    Phil Vickery
    1306: "We thoroughly deserve our chance to be here but being here is not good enough - we want to go out and retain our trophy.

    "I don't think we need much motivation. There are huge expectations outside the team, and from within the side. The challenge is for us to up our game on the biggest stage in world rugby, which is not an easy feat to achieve."
    England captain Phil Vickery

    "Training in a remote part of Northern Greece, we thought all hope was lost... until we came upon a bar that will be showing the game!! COME ON ENGLAND!!!"
    EpsilonVaz on 606

    "Forget all these far flung exotic destinations, if you can't be in Paris there's only one place to be watching the game tonight - at Nobbie and Di's in Cheshunt!"
    Erm, presumably Nobbie and Di via text

    1257: "An open-top double-decker bus has just limped past the strip with loads of Springboks on the top level - needless to say they were given a 'warm' reception by the England fans across the bars. The vocal equivalent of the bird you might say. It's all good humoured of course... I think."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    1254: "At the Gare du Nord the touch-paper has officially been lit - it is going absolutely ruddy mental. There are England fans everywhere, with plenty of Springboks too, and it is all going off - lovely stuff."
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs and Tom Fordyce in Paris

    1251: Right, apologies for the break in proceedings there - a few technical issues knocked us sideways for a spat. Believe it or not, I exceeded some kind of set word limit across Friday and today's commentary and, I don't know, caused a breakdown in the space-time continuum, almost forcing some kind of ice-age fallout or something. Anyway, we should be back on track - the only minor change being that you have to use our side links online to access Friday's chat.

    "My parents are in Paris, off to the match tonight & staying in the South African team hotel. Just as well I got them England rugby shirts before they left, which they're wearing this morning. Come on England."
    Jordan, London via text

    "Dirsy - your friend is probably just suffering with nerves, I had trouble holding down the toast this morning!!! Nothing that a few sedative beers won't fix."
    MrRichDean on 606

    Supporters arrive in Paris
    England fans arrive in Paris
    1219: "I've just rocked up at the Gare du Nord and there are England fans everywhere. The bars are full and the fans are in fine voice - I have just heard my first rendition of "Is this the way to Amarillo" - it wasn't bad! A group of five lads dressed as medieval knights have just walked past me on a mission to find a suitable watering hole. Marvellous."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "Come on Bryan Habana and South Africa - England are pure pish and will get pumped again."
    Hammer_Ghougue on 606

    1213: "Disaster strikes in the Paris equivalent of the Aberdeen Angus Steak house - a friend has just spent half an hour in the toilet after one mouthful of her steak. Bonus is, if she's out for much longer - Tom might be going to the match!"
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Paris

    "Sitting on a ferry leaving Dover and there appear to be more women in England shirts than men. What is happening?"
    Joff & Hemmy via text

    Pure chauvinistic chat that from Joff & Hemmy, ladies you have the floor...

    "We'll be gathering in our local bar here in Kingston, Jamaica to watch the final which kicks of at 2pm local time. By then the ice cold beers will definitely have us in the winning mood. Come on England !!"
    JamaicaRobins on 606

    1205: "The early morning chill has evaporated, skies are perfect blue with not a cloud in sight, and there is not a breath of wind either. There will be no excuses for any ball-dropping or pass-fumbling on a day like today - perfect for Jonny or Percy's pots from distance."
    BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Paris

    "We are ex-pats near Paris and we'll be watching on telly at home in front of a big log fire. I've been trying to find some England supporters to whom I can offer accommodation (glorified couch surfing) but I think it's too late now. Ne'er mind. We'll wave the flag on our own."
    expatexyorks on 606

    1157: More chat from Bok flanker Schalk Burger - they're not lacking in confidence the South Africans I tell ya...

    Schalk Burger
    "We know what they can offer because we have faced them before. So we're pretty well prepared for this," he said.

    "We just have to go out and play good rugby like we have been. You have to take the opportunity when you get it. Take New Zealand - they've been the best in the world for four years and they haven't had a run at the final."

    "Seen too many South Africans on the streets of Paris so far, I expect my fellow country men are saving their energy for the celebrations to come."
    David, Paris via text

    "Come on lads. I live in France and have been doing so for 6 years now. I have never seen the French fans so silent."
    addernoire on 606

    "Am hosting a world cup final party here in our apartment in Austria, with friends from Poland, Canada, and the US. So come on England!!"
    papagomp on 606

    1138: As the final hour draws ever nearer, England v South Africa battles are breaking out all across Europe. While touch rugby appears the order of the day in Paris, it's a game of kick-a-rugby-ball-at-erm-a-football-goal on Football Focus! Blackburn and England midfielder David Bentley takes on Blackburn and South Africa striker Benni McCarthy. If you're a web user, check out the video...

    "Was looking forward to watching the game in a New York Bar, but we're still sitting in departures at Heathrow, having been delayed two hours by a blocked toilet on the plane! May miss it now unless we mutiny and board the Concorde that's parked outside."
    Cowhead via text

    "I'll be watching the game in a Scottish pub and hope the Scots make a better job of getting behind England than they did against France."
    Fifecanary on 606

    "So nice to watch the game with a pub-load of subdued Aussies all crying into their weak schooners whilst we lift the cup once again!! Only a week till the Aussies can forget about the rugby and start telling us how good they are at Bowls again!"
    jamesFatboyRose on 606

    Ricky Hatton
    1131: "With the rugby lads doing us proud in France, Lewis Hamilton hopefully doing the business in the motor racing and me aiming to become the world's best pound-for-pound fighter in December, it's a great time to be a sport lover in this country."
    Boxing hero Ricky Hatton on BBC Radio 5Live

    "To all the Swing Low-ers in Tokyo - 1:00am at Paddy Foleys, 3:00am at Hobgoblin. Cracking atmosphere last week."
    skajam66 on 606

    "From Apollo Bay, Australia. Lived here for three years but will support England till the day I die. Will be up early to watch the game but will be sure to raise a glass to the Mother Land. God save the Queen!"
    craigbucky on 606

    "Today is the day South Africa smash England. 36-0 will look tame after today!"
    Grant via text

    1121: "Even in the quiet part of town where I am at the moment, I can see plenty of England and Springbok jerseys. One brave lad is ignoring the cold and propping up a bar wearing a kilt. Nice touch."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "On holiday in Noosa on the sunshine coast, Australia. Desperately trying to find a reception on dodgy apartment TV to watch the match whilst also trying to get the kids to bed. Happy days....come on England."
    Davo via text

    Ian Robertson
    1113: "Destiny awaits and England have an unexpected opportunity to record one of the biggest ever World Cup shocks. Last month England found themselves 100/1 to successfully defend the Cup. Tonight, South Africa are favourites but it's impossible to write off England."
    BBC Radio 5live's Ian Robertson

    "I'm sitting at my computer here in New Zealand urging on England. Everything I have read suggests SA will take it. However, they haven't got Jonny Wilkinson and I think he could swing the match. He is a brilliant fly half who plays an intelligent game."
    Sassybrian on 606

    "On the 1010 Eurostar and they've just announced that 'due to a loading error at Waterloo, we have no beer on board'. The loader was clearly some pathetic little government employee under instruction from Gordon Brown to stop our supposedly horrible drinking habits. Luckily, we've got a few crates of Stella with us! England to win by eight - allez les blancs!"
    Rob, London via text

    Will Greenwood
    1104: "All is very calm and very relaxed where I'm taking a boat trip on the River Seine - as it will be in both team hotels I'd wager - the calm before the storm. But it promises to be an unbelievable spectacle tonight - especially as no-one, the bookies, pundits or so-called experts, knows how this will go."
    World Cup winner Will Greenwood on BBC Radio 5live

    "After France were knocked out of the World Cup, do you think Arsenal fans will be supporting England or South Africa tonight?"
    Spurs fan "theghostof" on 606

    "There'll be 10 of us sitting in an oil camp at 1am in western Siberia and trying to make sense of Russian commentary... Just win England ok?"
    Anon via text

    Make sense of Russian commentary? No no no. What you want to do is access BBC Radio 5live through the internet. And combine that with our magnificent text commentary which will bring you all the chat before, during and after the match. And if you pop to the toilet at any point and are in possession of a UK phone, you can check things out on your mobile or PDA. Jubbly!

    Martin Corry
    1052: BBC Radio 5live correspondent Ian Robertson reveals to Martin Corry that he has an even greater interest than usual in tonight's match. "You do realise I've got 50 on England at 100/1?" says the BBC man. Corry replies: "Robbo, there are a lot of motivating factors for this final - you and your bank balance are not one of them."

    "Enough with the Cheetah. It would probably knock on if you passed it the ball, and I bet its tackling skills are woeful."
    us_rugger on 606

    "Living in Sydney. Can relate to all the nerves but have had an afternoon BBQ that has left me with the decision to go to bed or drink through. What do you think seeing as there is still nine and a half hours to go?"
    Quinton-Boy on 606

    "C'mon England, stuff it up 'em! Play from your hearts, give Jason Robinson the send-off he is truly worthy of."
    Mike, Reading via text

    Victor Ubogu
    1038: Former England front row and BBC blog legend Victor Ubogu is already getting very excited outside a cold and empty Stade de France. "Momentum is very important, playing in a winning side breeds success," he tells BBC News 24.

    "England are on an upward curve and this is another one-off game. It's a chance to win it back-to-back - what an opportunity!"

    "Anyone know a good place near Castle Hill to watch the game in Oz?"
    fasteagleboys on 606

    "Here's hoping that Gomarsall and Mad Moody can put pressure on Preez, countering his great play-making. Take their wings out too and we have a shot."
    Bourne-mouthy on 606

    1032: "Just been for a nerve-calming run to the Eiffel Tower and back - the English have taken over the Champs de Mars with the lads from 'Trent on Tour 2007' already parked in front of the big screen with 10 hours to go 'til kick-off. The atmos is sensational even at this early hour, with spontaneous games of touch rugby breaking out and men in sumo suits having their pics taken by bemused Japanese tourists."
    BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Paris

    "The danger man is Fourie du Preez and not Brian Habana. He reads and controls the game so well. Let's not over-concentrate on the cheetah..."
    oh la la on 606

    "Why oh why did I turn down buying a ticket for the final? I keep telling myself that the lack of accommodation in Paris and cost of getting there was a good reason. Nevermind, I'll be watching from a nice warm pub. Come on England!"
    Lee, Stratford via text

    1017: Apparently, sales of alcohol, snacks and consumer goods are expected to soar in England today ahead of the final. Sales of beer will be 70% higher than usual, pizza will be up 30% and curry 50%, while champagne sales will rise by 71% with lobster and beef steaks up by 38% and 22% respectively. Even sales of plasma TVs will go up 36%. At the risk of sounding all Jeremy Clarkson - THAT'S living people. None of this healthy-eating, exercise-driven nonsense for us Brits! I'm swelling with pride here...

    "'Allan Lamb, Zola Budd, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss - Can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of a beating!' You'll be able to use this one come 2200 BST tonight whatever the result!"
    peteroddan on 606

    "The team with the best discipline will win this close game. Both have great kickers in Jonny Wilkinson and Percy Montgomery and they will be the key. The Boks to win by five points!"
    Peter V, Ashford, Middx via text

    1003: "Stepped out of my hotel this morning and the first thing I saw was a bloke in a Springbok shirt. No English in sight yet. Had a chat with my newsagent and he thinks that England have a chance tonight because they "play with their heart".

    "He then looked down disdainfully at my paper and reading the "Une Fin Pitoyable" (One Pitiful Ending) headline in regard to France's defeat to Argentina last night, he added, "they do not". I'm loving that kind of punditry."
    BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac in Paris

    "Wilkinson is a has-been. Go South Africa."
    The Welsh Dragon, Cardiff British Gas via text

    0952: "News is the train strike is pretty much over. However, I have now been standing in a taxi queue for 15 minutes so it clearly isn't back to normal just yet. England fans - prepare to be patient in the French capital today and plan well ahead."
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Paris

    Clive Woodward
    0947: "England have got a huge opportunity of backing up what was a great result four years ago, just doing it a different way," Sir Clive Woodward tells BBC Radio 5live.

    "That's sport, that's why we love it. I've just got a really good feeling that they could pull off another major surprise tonight, which would be fantastic.

    "Clearly South Africa are favourites, but England are a very experienced team and if they can keep with them and hang on to their coat-tails and be within a score with 10, 15 minutes to go, there's no doubt this South African team will start to feel real pressure."

    "Heroes will emerge naturally. I think Schalk Burger is trying to say that the Springboks will play as a unit, no glory-boy stuff. Go The Springboks! Your nation is one today, and you are ALL heroes!"
    habanafan on 606

    When dressed as a red-coat, do your best not to get lost in Paris
    "Does life get any better - someone dropped out of the group from the office going to the final and I got their place on Thursday morning. On the way to Waterloo, England shirt on and having promised to do the DIY next weekend! Brian Ashton scared the hell out of me as a schoolboy when he was my coach and teacher so god knows what he does to the players. C'mon England - throw it about and do us proud!"
    Adam, London via text

    "No room for hero rugby? Schalk Burger has obviously never heard of a certain Mr. Wilkinson."
    Englandlad23 on 606

    "Morning Sam. Can you believe I had a very real dream about the rugby last night, only I can't remember the score! I have a feeling it was the normal rollercoaster ride though! Come on the boys! And Lewis!"
    Phil, Putney via text

    "I get a bible verse text everyday. Today's read - "If you can?" Said Jesus. "Everything is possible for those who believe" - Mark 9:23. Come on England - Jesus believes in you!"
    James Lawton, Oxford via text

    0930: "It is a fine, crisp morning in Paris and I can exclusively reveal Dirs will not be shaving today despite it being Cup Final day. Talking of facial hair, if George Chuter helps England to the trophy this evening, I will gladly remove his beard hair by hair - as long as it takes."
    BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Paris

    "Hello and good morning from a sunny South Africa. Just wanted to let you guys know that South Africa has turned into a sea of green and it not because we are in Spring. Everywhere you go you see people wearing Green... Go Bokke - Bring home the cup. You have an entire nation behind you."
    akajayb007 on 606

    Schalk Burger
    0923: South Africa flanker Schalk Burger is in confident mood. "There is no room for hero rugby, it's just about doing the basics well," he says. "Hopefully that will be enough. We just have to stick to the same game-plan."

    "A glorious Parisian morning. Not a cloud in the sky, reminiscent of the last two Saturdays in Marseille and Paris... Is 1010 GMT too early for the first beer of the day?"
    rambon on 606

    Too early for beer?? That's just crazy talk, rambon - it's World Cup final day man!

    0910: For those of you wondering what our boys in Paris will be getting up to in the coming hours, you may be interested to hear that Tom Fordyce's plan of action consists mainly of avoiding a "special World Cup final hug from Ben", "searching desperately for a final ticket", "a game of touch rugby with Bok fans" and "running around in circles like a demented wind-up toy". Our boys, putting themselves in the firing line in the trenches, that is. Brings a tear to the eye...

    0901: South African cricket legend Allan Donald tells BBC Radio 5live that the Boks will win by 10 points.

    Allan Donald
    Asked if he has divided loyalties after his recent spell as England bowling coach, Donald says: "It doesn't matter how many years you spend in the UK, deep down your blood is South African. Nothing changes."

    Let's hope the same can't be said of Mike Catt, Matt Stevens and Nick Abendanon hey?

    "Well what do I say! This battle is going to be epic. Blood sweat and tears. The boys are probably just tucking into some breakfast. The passion is going to be boiling over and the hits will be titanic. This is too much. Come on England!!"
    Anon via text

    0855: "I'm told that two out of three Metro lines are running but they do tell me, please England fans, be patient - you will get here."
    Chris Hollins on BBC News 24

    "Come on England, come on Lewis Hamilton, do it England! What a weekend of sport!"
    Hermit Of Mink Hollow on 606

    "Was at the train station at 0451 BST this morning. If cancelled trains don't get me, frostbite will!. Ah the things we do for our country... See you in France in eight hours hopefully!"
    X via text

    "I can't sleep! Off to Rugby to watch the rugby with me old fella later on - can we get someone to print off all the lyrics of 'The Gambler' for all the England fans in the stadium tonight?"
    Andy, Co Durham via text

    "Just been for a pre-breakfast stroll on the streets of Paris 8am local time. The early risers are the Springboks - 100s of barrel-chested men strolling the streets and every one of them is raucously confident that they're going to win the World Cup today. The England fans are still sleeping off their hangovers after the quintessential go-hard first night in town."
    BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce in Paris

    0845: Righto, here we go. Less than 12 hours from now the England boys will be belting out 'God Save the Queen', a tear in their eye, at the Stade de France on the biggest rugby stage imaginable - the World Cup final. I surprised myself by struggling to get much sleep last night in anticipation of tonight's face-off - does that make me unspeakably sad? Am I alone?

    Once again, I will be bringing you all the pre-match chat so I need you cracking out the talk on 606 and bashing the SMSs my way on 81111. Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs are making their way, bleary-eyed if rumours are to believed, to the Eiffel Tower as we speak, while Mark Orlovac will be carrying out his own catch-the-pigeon-style fan-chase later on too. Get involved, people...

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