Roaring two-mile scrum greets World Cup victors

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The Independent Online

England's World Cup winners rugby players paraded the trophy through London today as hundreds of thousands of cheering fans lined the streets.

Captain Martin Johnson, star player Jonny Wilkinson and the rest of the squad joined the Sweet Chariot victory parade leaving their hotel in three open-top buses.

Up to 750,000 people turned central London into a two-mile-long scrum as renditions of Swing Low Sweet Chariot broke out.

England flags and red and white bunting lined much of the route, which started at Marble Arch and finishes in Trafalgar Square.

Despite the bitterly cold morning, the crowds were in good spirits as they grabbed any vantage point they could to see their heroes and the Webb Ellis trophy.

Some fans had waited through the night to bag the best spots in Trafalgar Square to greet the players who won the World Cup in dramatic fashion against Australia last month.

All the prime viewing spots at the barriers had been taken by 9am.

The square was awash with England flags and motorists driving past tooted their horns in support.

Jake Woolf, 25, from Chelmsford, Essex, and his friends arrived at Trafalgar Square shortly before 6am.

He said: "We are here to support the team and to show the boys we were all here for them.

"There is also an element of history about it so it's important to be here for them."

Andrea Gill, 23, also from Chelmsford, said she had brought a special present for her favourite player, Jonny Wilkinson.

Ms Gill plans to hand over a black lacy bra to the drop goal hero, whom she described as "just a beautiful person".

Marble Arch and Oxford Street was also busy with fans and many shops were marking the parade with red and white bunting.