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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
World leaders to attend Cup final
Thabo Mbeki and Gordon Brown
National leaders Mbeki and Brown will both be at the game
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and South African president Thabo Mbeki will be at Saturday's Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa.

Brown, who is Scottish, will go to Paris after a meeting of European Union leaders in Portugal, having been invited by the Rugby Football Union.

As a youngster, Mr Brown was a keen rugby player, until he lost the sight of one eye in a playing accident.

Former South African president Nelson Mandela also hopes to be at the game.

Earlier in the tournament, Mr Brown said he had been supporting Scotland as long as they were in the tournament.

"The one barrier to my support for England in the World Cup final has been removed by the unfortunate defeat of Scotland," he said after the Scots were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Argentina.

Nelson Mandela and Percy Montgomery
Percy Montgomery presents Mandela with a World Cup shirt

Mandela was president of South Africa when they hosted and won the World Cup in 1995, and memorably donned a Springboks shirt to present to trophy to captain Francois Pienaar.

The success of the 1995 tournament is widely regarded as a significant moment of national unity in post-apartheid South Africa, and the sports-mad country will also host the 2010 football World Cup.

The team's success in reaching the final sparked wild celebrations in South Africa, with politicians quick to get involved.

The ruling African National Congress called on fans across the country to wear Springbok shirts on Monday to honour their success.

"We join millions of South Africans who are celebrating not only Sunday's victory in the semi-finals against Argentina, but the outstanding performance that the team has shown so far in the Rugby World Cup," said ANC spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso.

SEE ALSO
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