PARIS, 20 October - South Africans Gary, Steve, Dion and Hilton have flown in from Sydney to spend a day in Paris for the rugby world cup final despite not having tickets to the match.

England supporter Andy, from Birmingham, only learnt on Friday night that his father had died, but he is staying in Paris and "dedicating the whole weekend to my dad".

For Gary the final sums up everything that is good about rugby.

"I think rugby is like a goo that holds us. It doesn't matter which city you live in throughout the world, one of the common bonds is rugby, " he said. "It's one of the things that keeps us together."

"We left Sydney, Australia, we flew 26 hours. We've just got in here at 7 o'clock this morning. We're going to watch the match and then we'll get onto a plane tomorrow morning and we'll fly another 26 hours back to Sydney," Gary said.

Dan from England, on tour with the Portsmouth University rugby club, has a lot riding on a red rose win.

"I'll get a tattoo. Drunken bets are on," he said at the Trocadero, near the Eiffel Tower, where the beer was already flowing early on Saturday.

England fan Chris said he had to come.

"I think especially because England weren't expected to make it to the final, even to get to the semi-finals, quarter-finals."

While the majority of fans were English or South African, New Zealand, Australian Welsh and Scottish jerseys could be seen in the crowd.

Tom, a New Zealander, was picking the Springboks to win by 20 points.

"Rugby's gotta win. Rugby's gotta win, not this other roley poley stuff that England play, " he said.

Scotsman Marcus, complete with brightly coloured kilt and matching tassels on his shoes, was nervously waiting to collect a ticket to the match from friend and England number 8 Nick Easter.

"I'll be a lot more excited once I get my ticket," he said.

"It's all a bit surreal at the minute. I'm trying to call my friend but can't get through to him. I guess he's busy. I'm supposed to meet his dad but I don't know where he's at. So I might end up watching it in a park with a bunch of French people. That'll be really disappointing."

RNS om/gs