FOR many in our county going to Japan for the World Cup final is nothing more than a dream - but for some Cumbrian fans that dream is a reality.

Bailey Hardman, 28, was among thousands of rugby fans who made the 12-hour journey from the UK to Japan.

Failing to get tickets for the World Cup Final against South Africa today, Bailey, her boyfriend and his family, bought tickets for the third-place play-off between New Zealand and Wales yesterday.

Miss Hardman, who lives in Penrith but works in Carlisle, said: “It was really good actually. What I will say though is it is quite hard watching it live as you don’t have the commentary to tell you what is going on.

“There was a really great mixed crowd. Everyone is so nice, they seem happy to have you here.

“We came last Thursday in time for the England vs New Zealand game, we didn’t get tickets.

“We entered the ballot and we got them for the third place game.”

The 28-year-old says the whole group are really looking forward to the final.

“Definitely after today. We will be watching it in the pub, we are really looking forward to it now.

“Hopefully we’ll win, we did really well against New Zealand.

“We arrived in Tokyo today (Friday) and there is a massive amount of England fans amongst all the other fans.”

Miss Hardman, inset, is a huge fan of the Asian island.

“It is my favourite place I have been to. Japan is certainly somewhere I will come back to.

“Everybody is friendly.”

They tried to get tickets for the final against South Africa, but they were being sold for as much as £1,000 a ticket.

Due to the unaffordable cost of tickets, the group of six now have to decide where to watch England’s historic game.

“We are just debating now. There is a fan zone, but we are debating going to a pub locally.

“We are wondering whether to stay local.”

Enjoying the game in Carlisle will be South African Ivor Roberts, who now lives in Cumwhinton.

“I am not in touch with many South Africans, but I know quite a few British peeple who love rugby.

“One chap from Dalston has been watching all the South Africa games and he puts South Africa in the top four in the world, with a small chance of winning.

“That has changed a little bit since England came out against New Zealand and looked superior in every way.

“South Africa are fighters, if they can’t get their way they start bulldozing - there’s going to be a few bruises.”

The owner of Mapa Trees in Carlisle is pessimistic about South Africa’s chances.

“If England play like they did against New Zealand I’d say the chances are 60/40 in favour of England.

“South Africa will have to play their best game ever to beat England.

“They will have to keep the ball holding areas to a minimum.

“As a South African, England are favourites to win.

“They will have to pull up their socks to beat England.

“They could do it, but the chances are small.”

Mr Roberts says he will be watching the game on Botchergate in Carlisle.

“I was invited by a friend to go to Woodrow Wilson, he said it tends to be buzzing.

“I am going to put on my Springboks jersey, I’m sure it will be great fun.

“May the best team win.”