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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 11:27 GMT
England's victory parade
England's players have been greeted by thousands of fans on their Rugby World Cup victory parade

All the action as it happened from England's Rugby World Cup victory parade in London.

The players received an incredible reception from thousands of fans who packed out the streets of central London and Trafalgar Square to mark last month's World Cup win over Australia.


1340 GMT: It had to happen - Queen's "We are the champions" blasts out from the speakers as the England team continue to receive the adoration of their supporters.

Next on the agenda is an afternoon audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, followed by a reception at Downing Street with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

1332 GMT: In a stage-managed end to the first part of the England players' momentous day, the dry ice and red and white tickertape flies through the air, while UB40's version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" pumps through the speakers.

1330 GMT: England's hero and crowd darling Jonny Wilkinson addresses the crowd to screams of delight more commonly heard at boy band concerts.

1324 GMT: England captain Martin Johnson sends the crowd wild as he tells the BBC's John Inverdale about the players' reaction to the parade.

"It was awesome and mind-blowing," he says, before further contributions from Phil Vickery, Richard Hill, Matt Dawson and coach Clive Woodward.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, gets a slightly less enthusiastic reaction, but swings the crowd in his favour by awarding the whole squad the freedom of London.

1323 GMT: As one, the crowd launch into a rousing rendition of the England anthem "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"

1320 GMT: The noise levels go through the roof as the fans in Trafalgar Square catch sight of the police horses that are clearing the way ahead of the coach.

1309 GMT: The players are as enthusiastic as at the start as they near Trafalgar Square. They join in with "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and enjoy the banter with the fans.

Prop Phil Vickery shows the champagne has not cost him any of his renowned ball-handling skills as he passes some signed balls out to the crowd.

1305 GMT: The excitement is having strange effects on some of the waiting crowds in Trafalgar Square as a handful of brave souls - despite the freezing weather conditions - jump around in the fountains.

1259 GMT: Underneath the enormous electronic advertising signs in Piccadilly Circus, the scenes are reaching new levels of excitement as the coach starts to drive down Haymarket.

1256 GMT: England coach Clive Woodward - staying with his support staff on the second coach - tells reporters: "I never thought I'd see this for an England rugby team" as he surveys the phenomenal scene.

1251 GMT: The fans launch into a hearty rendition of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" as the buses struggle along Piccadilly Circus.

1237 GMT: With some difficulty, the buses manage to turn into an equally-packed Regents Street. Fans at street level do their best to get photos with their cameras above their heads like paparazzi.

1232 GMT: The buses are still almost stationary on Oxford Street as fans clamber up lamp posts and traffic lights to get a better view of the players.

The windows of every building along the route are also packed with office workers enjoying the moment with temperatures in the capital only just above freezing.

1223 GMT: Veteran prop Jason Leonard - the world's most-capped player with 112 caps - tells reporters on board: "We've got the best fans in the world.

"I'm really happy that we can say thank you to all these people."

1220 GMT: The streets of the West End are awash with St George flags and England rugby shirts.

The trophy is taking pride of place at the front of the first bus as the players take it in turns to hold it aloft. Crowd favourite Jonny Wilkinson is content to take in things from the rear of the coach.

Reserve hooker Dorian West leads the way as the champagne comes out, taking enthusiastic gulps from the bottle.

1211 GMT: The players - all smartly turned out in matching grey suits, blue shirts and red ties - are trying to soak up every second as they take pictures, talk to loved ones on their mobile phones and wave to the huge crowds.

1208 GMT: As England move down the packed street rowed with high-rise offices, the tickertape comes streaming through the air and hundreds of white balloons are released in scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood film rather than a cold December's day in London.

1201 GMT: As the Mayor of Westminster cuts the ribbon, the buses slowly roll down Oxford Street flanked by dozens of yellow-jacketed policeman, while several police horses do their best to clear a path.

1200 GMT: The two open top buses wait close to Marble Arch ahead of a giant red ribbon with the players peering over the top eagerly.

Many have digital cameras and camcorders to record the special moments for posterity.

England coach Clive Woodward sits on the second bus with the assortment of England backroom staff.

1150 GMT: The buses start to make their way up towards Marble Arch where the gates will be opened to allow the squad to pass through, an honour usually reserved for royalty.

1130 GMT: As thousands of fans gather in Trafalgar Square, and all along some of central London's busiest streets, England's coach leaves the Intercontinental Hotel in Hyde Park Corner where the players attended a press conference.

The huge influx of fans into the capital has seen road closures throughout the West End, while the tube stations in the area have been swamped by people desperate to pay tribute to England's World Cup heroes.

On two huge television screens, parade organisers are showing highlights from England's momentous 20-17 victory over Australia to the delight of the watching supporters.


To mark the enormity of England's achievement in securing their first major World Cup triumph since 1966, the players are due to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the afternoon before moving on to a Downing Street reception with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Scotland Yard say that more than 500 police officers will patrol the event.

England have already had one homecoming of sorts when thousands of supporters turned up to Heathrow airport last month at the unearthly hour of 0400 GMT.







Links to more Rugby World Cup stories


 

SEE ALSO
Get the most out of England's parade
07 Dec 03  |  Rugby World Cup
New squabble over rugby reception
07 Dec 03  |  Politics


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