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England rugby fans on edge of their seats for South Africa clash

Pubs and rugby clubs all over the country are packed to the rafters for the final.

England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Old Albanian RFC, The Woollam Playing Fields, St Albans (Andrew Matthews/PA)
England fans watch the Rugby World Cup final screening at Old Albanian RFC, The Woollam Playing Fields, St Albans (Andrew Matthews/PA)

By PA reporters

Anxious England rugby fans have filled pubs up and down the country for the nation’s nail-biting showdown with South Africa.

The British Beer and Pub Association predicted that one million extra pints will be sold throughout Saturday if England are victorious at the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan.

Harpenden Rugby Club – where three of the World Cup team including captain Owen Farrell trained – also hosted a big event for fans.

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Fans at Harpenden Rugby Club, St Albans (Joe Giddens/PA)

Peter Danby, president of Harpenden Rugby Football Club (HRFC), told the PA news agency Farrell had always been “an obvious talent”.

He said: “Owen had played rugby league so he had to adjust to playing rugby union which took a while.

“He was always a very strong determined player and a fantastic kicker, even at 14 he could kick the ball from the halfway line.”

He added: “We’re very very proud. This is the most people we’ve ever had at the club inside and out and it’s a testament to how popular the club is.”

So many England fans turned up they were forced to stand outside to watch the game despite the pouring rain.

Elsewhere, Crewe & Nantwich RUFC – the club England flanker Tom Curry and his twin brother Ben played for up to the age of 16 – were hosting a screening of the final.

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England fans at the Yokohama Stadium (David Davies/PA)

Vice chairman Andy Pemberton, who did some coaching with the twins during their time at the club, told PA ahead of the match: “To see one of your guys walking out, knowing he’s played at the pitches here at Crewe & Nantwich, is something special. The chest puffs out.

“You see him belting out the national anthem and it brings a tear to your eye.”

Some supporters had even fashioned their own Tom Curry masks.

Fans at The Admiralty pub at Trafalgar Square in London were optimistic of a win after a “superb” campaign.

Jack Butler, 19, from Amersham, said a victory had been “on the cards since the very first game”.

“This is the strongest England side I have seen in a long while – very consistent,” he said. “The last World Cup we didn’t get a good showing but Eddie [Jones] has ironed out a lot of the wrinkles. That is making all the difference now.”

Some Welsh fans have even set aside the old rivalry to back England.

Sam Collins, 26, from Swansea, said he was “rooting for England”, adding: “Watching their games you learn to like the players. They are not big heads and I appreciate their rugby.”

Millions of fans were also expected to tune in from their sofas.

Broadcaster ITV said coverage of England’s semi-final clash peaked at 10 million viewers, almost three quarters of the overall TV audience, last weekend.

The Queen and Prime Minister both sent messages wishing the team good luck, while the Duke of Sussex jetted out to watch the final in person.

Ahead of the match, the Harry met with Japan’s Paralympic hopefuls at a wheelchair rugby training session.

The players assured the duke they were rooting for England, although one admitted he would be cheering for the Springboks.

Thousands of ordinary fans also made the trip to Japan – with the packed stands resembling a sold-out Twickenham.

PA

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