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Millions of people in both England and France are set to tune in tonight for the titanic clash between the two countries in the Semi-Final of the Rugby World Cup. England beat France 24-7 at the same stage in the last World Cup in 2003 and went on to beat Australia in the Final.

And it's a great day for sports fans in England with three England teams playing today. Earlier today, the England cricket team played Sri Lanka in the fifth and final One Day International between the two teams, the England football team played Estonia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers and at 8pm British time tonight the England rugby team does battle with France in the match known as "Le Crunch."

In Birmingham, England's second biggest city which is famous for its curry restaurants, curries designed in the England flag and served on rugby ball shaped plates are being served as customers watch the game on TV.

And it's good news for the England team - the majority of the seats in the 80,000 capacity Stade de France will be filled by English fans, due to a combination of the English being more passionate, as well as richer, than their French rivals....


Le Crunch: Millions set to tune in for England's titanic rugby clash with France

By MICHAEL SEAMARK and PETER ALLEN
13th October 2007
Daily Mail

England supporters have poured into France for a rugby battle royal.

Travelling by train, boat and plane, a vast army of fans descended on Paris in a fervour of patriotism that invoked the spirit of Agincourt.

Up to 50,000 English fans will be present for the World Cup semi-final confrontation, hoping their team can repeat their 24-7 thumping of France in the same fixture in Sydney four years ago.


Le crunch time: An army of English fans travelling by train from London to Paris to watch tonight's huge rugby game


The scramble for seats in the Stade de France saw tickets changing hands on the black market for as much as 2,000.


England's Jonny Wilkinson during Friday's training session. He has scored more points in World Cups than any other player in the world, with 234. Can he kick France out of the tournament tonight?


Ten million more were expected to be cheering on Jonny Wilkinson and the boys on TV.

It will be a bumper day of TV sport, with the BBC showing the England football team's European Championship qualifier against Estonia at Wembley at 3pm and Sky following our cricketers in Sri Lanka.

The sale of widescreen TVs has jumped by ten per cent in the past week.

Pubs are predicting customer numbers will swell by around nine million compared to a normal Saturday, with beer sales jumping from 22million pints to a predicted 30million.

Asda expects beer sales to double on last weekend.

ITV1, which is showing the Rugby match live at 8pm, believes its viewing figures will easily eclipse the six million who saw last weekend's shock quarterfinal triumph over Australia in Marseilles.

The bookies are not convinced of England's chances. William Hill make France 2/7 odds-on favourites to claim a place in the final against South Africa or Argentina, with England at 5/2.

But that hasn't deterred the fans. Ferry companies, airlines and Eurostar all reported a vast surge in ticket sales.


Rugby Fever: A Birmingham restaurant will be serving a special 'Rugby Curry' designed like the English flag on a plate shape like a rugby ball, ahead of tonight's game



Brian Rees, a spokesman for P&O, said: "As soon as the whistle blew on the quarter final our bookings jumped.






"It's not just those going to the game. Many without tickets just want to get over there and find a bar and watch the game somewhere close by."

A Eurostar spokesman said: "We are taking around 28,000 passengers to Paris this weekend and that's about 40 per cent up on the same weekend last year.

"We have laid on four extra trains, two of those on Saturday, which in total will give us 3,000 extra seats.

"And it's not just England fans who are travelling with us. There's a huge French ex-pat community in London and many are going over for the match."

British Airways reported full flights from London to Paris and virtually every private jet in the South East of England has been commandeered by fans rich enough to travel in style.

English fans may outnumber their French rivals in the stadium.

They are snapping up spare tickets far quicker than locals, many being offered by Australian and New Zealand fans whose package deals provided tickets assuming their teams would be in the semis.

"The vast majority are going to England fans," said New Zealander Brett Adams, who had a row of ten to sell at five times face value.

"It's the English who have the passion and the money - they're the ones we are doing business with."

Even the French are selling tickets. "I'd rather make a bit of money and then watch the game on television," said student Philippe Brand, 24, who sold his 250 tickets for 700.

A giant screen has been erected at London's O2 Arena, where up to 5,000 fans will be cheering the rugby team on.

But in Rugby, Warwickshire, where William Webb Ellis invented the game in 1823, plans by the town council to erect a giant screen to show the semi-finals have been dashed.

Police in the Warwickshire town told councillors they had safety concerns with so many people gathering in one place.


Don't forget the football: England coach Steve McClaren and Steven Gerrard gear up for Saturday's European Championship qualifier against Estonia



dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Oct 13th, 2007 at 11:27 AM..