How to find that stadium atmosphere - in England

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The Independent Online

You can watch it at the cinema. You can see it on television. You can even enjoy it on massive screens in the former Millennium Dome. Anyone without a ticket for Saturday's Rugby World Cup Final need not worry. England is pulling out all the stops to cater for any fan who cannot make it to Paris.

With auction websites such as eBay offering pairs of tickets for the England v South Africa match at up to £25,000, public screenings have been hastily arranged across the land. Some Odeon cinemas, for example, will show the game for free on a first come, first served basis.

On Saturday, 5,000 people converged on the 02 Arena in Greenwich, south-east London, to watch England's semi-final victory against France. This weekend, 6,000 are expected to head to the dome, where admission and the first 2003 beers – commemorating the year England last won the cup – are free.

Screens are being erected at Queen Victoria Square in Hull, All Saints' Square in Rotherham and Centenary Square in Bradford to bring the game to 15,000 people. For fans with more cash to spare, £67.50 will buy a ticket to watch the game at Twickenham, home of the Rugby Football Union. The "Twickenham Experience" offer includes a two-course English buffet with drinks in an indoor suite – a wise choice, perhaps, should it rain.

At least 50,000 English fans are expected to descend on the city of Paris this weekend. Travellers are now being advised to take along a tent if they plan to stay, because more than 95 per cent of the 75,000 hotel rooms in the city are already booked. Some entrepreneurial Parisians are even offering spare rooms to the English and South Africans and charging for bed and breakfast.

Travel options to Paris are equally limited. Justin Hopwood, of England Rugby Travel, the official tour agency for the tournament, said: "We sold out our initial packages before the final whistle [last] Saturday and then asked people to register their interest for more on Monday. We had 3,000 inquiries in the first hour after the match."

Eurostar has laid on seven extra trains on Saturday and aims to carry 30,000 people – 5,000 of whom booked in the first hour after England's semi-final win. However, supporters going by train will be confronted by striking French rail workers who have threatened to cause chaos on the Parisian transport system, including the Métro.

There are other ways to get to Paris, of course. Six South African bankers in London have chartered a jet for £12,000, as well as paying £2,500 each for match tickets. One man who will not have to haggle for a seat at the Stade de France is Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister has been invited to the final as a guest of the Rugby Football Union.

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