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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
England fans join the Paris party
By Alistair Magowan

Fans are flocking to Paris to sample to atmosphere
Paris is going to be mental

England Rugby Supporters Club manager Ed Dawes

England v France
Saturday, 13 October
Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 2000 BST
Live on BBC Radio 5live and the BBC Sport website

More than 40,000 England fans are due to descend on Paris to sample the atmosphere of England's World Cup semi-final with France on Saturday.

England's unexpected quarter-final victory over Australia meant a surge in last-minute bookings.

The match is a sell-out but tickets are exchanging hands for up to 1,400.

England Rugby Travel spokesman Justin Hopwood told BBC Sport: "There has been a phenomenal interest, people have been surprised by England's success."

Hopwood, who sells travel packages to the England Rugby Supporters Club, says they could have sold their 1,500 tickets three times over.

And the additional 2,000 tickets released by the Rugby World Cup website were also snapped up within hours.

"This is a prime example of success on the pitch letting the fans loose - they all want a piece of the action," he said.

BIG SCREENS SHOWING THE MATCH
O2 Arena in east London
Bradford (Centenary Square), Rotherham (All Saints Square) and Hull (Queen Victoria Square)
Selected Odeon cinemas

"We ran out of the travel part of the packages but, as they did for the South Africa match, fans will happily drive over to France.

"You have to remember that the Rugby World Cup is a big extravaganza and people will go and watch, even though they might not get to see their team.

"The other thing to consider is that this is a big opportunity for most fans. The last World Cup was in Australia and the next one is in 2011 in New Zealand."

The opportunity to join the party has proved hard to resist for many fans with Eurostar reporting a 40% increase in bookings compared to the same weekend last year.

606: DEBATE
Alistair M - BBC Sport

And even ferry companies are saying the semi-final has boosted their takings during an otherwise quiet period.

"England versus France is such a massive game anyway but in the semi-final of the World Cup, it doesn't get much bigger," England Rugby Supporters Club manager Ed Dawes told BBC Sport.

"Lots of fans will want to get to Paris whether they have a ticket or not.

"It's such a short distance over there, that fans can sample the build-up, the game and hopefully an England victory in a bar or at one of the big screens.

"Whatever happens, Paris is going to be mental."

Eurostar
Eurostar bookings are up by 40%

Although things this side of the English channel have been a little more subdued, England's 12-10 victory over Australia has finally given supporters the chance to cheer their team in bigger numbers.

The O2 arena in east London will be host to 5,000 England fans as they show the semi-final on a big screen.

Fans in Bradford (Centenary Square), Rotherham (All Saints Square) and Hull (Queen Victoria Square) can also take advantage of free giant screen events.

And the Rugby Football Union will be showing both semi-finals on cinema screens across the country as part of its Go Play Rugby recruitment drive.

The atmosphere is sure to be electric wherever the location and with one ferry company telling BBC Sport it still had return tickets for 90, the party looks like it has room for a few more.



SEE ALSO
England v France
12 Oct 07 |  English
Wilkinson calms kicking concerns
11 Oct 07 |  English
Semi will not be violent - Sella
12 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Rugby screen is banned from town
12 Oct 07 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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