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Monday, December 08, 2003
London Parade
from the BBC: "Hundreds of thousands of England supporters paid tribute to their Rugby World Cup heroes on Monday at a victory parade in central London.

The city's West End ground to a halt as the England team held aloft the William Webb Ellis trophy in front of a delirious crowd.

Following the Sweet Chariot victory parade, the England players went on to to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Prince Philip, Prince William, Prince Edward and Princess Anne also took the opportunity to speak to the World Cup winners, who posed for a team photo with the Queen and her corgis.

The day ended with a champagne reception with Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street.

Police estimated that 750,000 supporters made the trip to central London, making the day the largest sporting celebration of its kind in the United Kingdom.

The scenes even eclipsed the celebrations of 37 years ago when England's football team paraded the Jules Rimet trophy.
The streets were a sea of white and red as the England team, travelling in two specially painted open top buses, began their parade at Marble Arch.

The sound of English rugby's adopted anthem 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' followed the vehicles around the city as tickertape rained down.

The greatest cheer was reserved for the team's arrival in Trafalgar Square where captain Martin Johnson paid tribute to his side's huge support during the World Cup.

"It's been incredible," an emotional Johnson said. "This is awesome, absolutely mindblowing.

"We had thousands of fans in Australia, but this is something else."

A beaming England coach Clive Woodward admitted he was shocked with the size of the crowd.

"This is extraordinary," he said. "I never thought I'd see this for an England rugby team. The support has been brilliant."

Drop-kick hero Jonny Wilkinson added: "We're overwhelmed. It matters so much to get this support and being on this bus now is one of the greatest moments of my life.


"It's great to be able to pay back the fans who travelled half way around the world as well as those who stayed at home.
"We owe everyone a massive amount."

England's squad and management left Marble Arch at 1200 GMT and travelled eastbound along Oxford St, Regent St and Pall Mall."
Posted at 4:02 PM by John.
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