Thousands of England rugby fans began flocking to Paris today to watch their heroes take on South Africa in the World Cup semi-final.
Punters wearing Red Rose jerseys have already started sinking pints in the run-up to tonight’s grudge match against the Springboks.
Some 20,000 England fans are expected to cheer on the team when they take to the pitch at the Stade de France in the French capital.
But Steve Borthwick’s side go into the clash as underdogs, with bookmakers giving odds of just 5/1 to beat the current world champions.
And despite all the obstacles, the army of England fans still remains hopeful that the men in red and white can achieve a famous victory.
England fans Mike Parker of Twickenham with Kevin Watt of Barnet at Gare du Nord
Gavin Howard with his daughter Holly, 18, arriving at Gare du Nord in Paris for the Rugby World Cup semi-final between England and South Africa
Richard and Ben Summers, father and son from Sheffield, are already enjoying pints in Paris ahead of England’s semi-final against South Africa at the Rugby World Cup.
“There’s no reason why we can’t do it,” said Tony Brett, 43, from Bath. “Whatever happens, it’s going to be a great match.”
Mr Brett was part of a traveling army of British fans who were in the French capital for Saturday night’s clash.
“We may be underdogs, but England can certainly do it,” said Simon Goss, also 43 and from Bath.
Father and son Toby and Nick Walter, aged 51 and 19, from Sevenoaks in Kent, also believed England had a fighting chance.
“My prediction is England will win by three points,” said Mr Walter, who wore a British and Irish Lions jersey.
“We will wear our white England jerseys in the match,” he said, adding: “We are England first and the Lions second.”
Richard and Ben Summers, another father and son, aged 52 and 25, from Sheffield, attended New Zealand’s victory over Argentina on Friday night as a warm-up for the match against England .
“If every player is at their best and South Africa makes a few mistakes, then – yes – we can do it,” Mr Summer senior said.
Toby and Nick Walter, father and son from Sevenoaks in Kent, don their red British Lions kits in Paris
Richard and Ben Summers, father and son from Sheffield, relax before tonight’s match
Bath’s Simon Goss and Tony Brett also get in the mood in France
Some 20,000 England fans are expected to attend tonight’s match at the Stade de France. Pictured is England captain Owen Farrell celebrating his team’s victory over Fiji in the quarter-finals last week.
“We follow England, Sheffield and Knottingley rugby clubs and know the game can throw up all sorts of surprises. Whatever happens, it should be a great night.
Supporters flooded the Eurostar and were seen singing Swing Low in bars.
Chloe Wells, 30, is backing England to beat the Springboks and win the World Cup.
Mrs Wells, from Surrey, who had her nails painted with red roses, said: “Of course we’ll do it. We will go all the way.
She traveled with her friends Josh Ervin, 31, Augusto Burtolome, 28, and George Jones, 28.
Mr Ervin said: “We expect the worst and hope for the best. We keep everything crossed.
David Jackson, 59, from Warwick and Chris Allen, 55, from Buxton have been following England since the start of the tournament.
Mr Allen said: “I’ve just bought tickets for the final, I think we’ll do it tonight.
“South Africa were beaten by France, if we can do that we really have a chance.”
South African fan Tyran Saayman (left) with England fan Adam Dodkins (right) at Gare du Nord in Paris
Mr Jackson, who paid £400 for his tickets, said: “It’s the same team that beat New Zealand in the semi-final at the last tournament, I think we can be confident.”
Mike Parker, 62, from Twickenham and Kevin Watt, 59, from Barnett, had English samurai hats made for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Mr Watt said: “England’s arrival in the semi-final was the greatest deception on French soil since the landings.
“We have gone unnoticed from the start. We didn’t expect them to come out of the group stages and now we are one step away from the final.
Mr Parker said: “Steve Borthwick needs to be knighted if we win. He was brilliant.
“I think it’s going to be a good night and we’re going in with a shout.”
Adam Dodkins, 39, from Aylesbury, traveled with South African bully Saayman, 38, from Oxford.
Mr Dodkins said: “Tyrant is more confident than me, but I think we can do it. We have to keep the game at 10 and kick everything.
“If we win, I won’t let him forget it.”
England’s Marcus Smith feeds a pass during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 quarter-final match between England and Fiji at the Stade Vélodrome on October 15.
Mr Dodkins has attended every World Cup match since 2007 with his father before sadly passing away from Covid two years ago.
Mr Saayman said: ‘As soon as I saw it was South Africa, England, I said we’re going there. It’s great to be here, but I think the tournament will end for England tonight.
Gavin Howard, 52, came to watch the match on the Eurostar with his daughter Holly, 18, from Bristol.
Ms Howard said: “I think if we keep the game close we might have a chance – but we’ll have to be lucky.”
The Howars purchased their tickets in September of last year.
Mr Howard said: “I’m quite surprised we’ve made it this far. I’m not sure we’ll go much further, but I hope I’m wrong.
Tonight’s clash comes on the anniversary of two famous British military victories which fans hope will inspire England to victory.
On October 21, 1805, British military hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson led the Royal Navy to one of its most famous victories at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Lord Nelson’s fleet of 27 warships was outnumbered when it faced and defeated the 33 ships of the combined French and Spanish armada.
Exactly 94 years later, in 1899, the English soldiers of the Devonshire and Manchester regiments were among those who triumphed at the Battle of Elandslaagte in South Africa.
Troops fighting for the Republic of South Africa under General Johannes Kock were defeated at the town of Elandslaagte, north of Ladysmith, during the Second Boer War.
An epic performance from England’s warriors was once again needed if they were to have any chance of beating world rugby champions South Africa.
Ollie Lawrence of England poses for a photo with a fan after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 quarter-final match between England and Fiji.
As fans arrived by train, plane and car, a massive security operation took place to ensure their safety.
France is on high terror alert following the killing of a school teacher by a self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist in Arras, north of Paris, a week ago, and multiple bomb threats .
The Palace of Versailles, the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower have all been closed several times over the past week due to false alarms.
In 2015, three ISIS suicide bombers targeted the Stade de France during an international football match between France and Germany in the presence of then French President François Hollande.
The latest fears come as tensions rise across the world due to the war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East.
Today, England will also face South Africa in the Cricket World Cup.