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Premiership Rugby

Heroes’ welcome for England squad

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Coach Clive Woodward was first to emerge from the plane, followed shortly by skipper Martin Johnson, with the Webb Ellis Cup in hand, and then by everyone's newest darling of English sport, drop-goal hero Jonny Wilkinson.

"I'm certainly proud to be English and very glad to be home," Woodward told Sky Sports News after getting off the plane, the specially named British Airways B747 'Sweet Chariot'.

"I'd just like to say a big thank you to all those people who got up so early, I've never seen anything like it, it was just fantastic."

The players were greated with a huge roar when they passed through passport control and entered the arrivals hall, with 'World In Union' playing on the PA system. A singer – with a microphone – added to the emotion with a stirring rendition of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, plans for a victory parade have met with problems and the team may have to wait for over a week before they receive an official honour.

Details are still being thrashed out and no confirmation has been give as to what kind of celebration will be held.

The favoured option is said the be victory parade through the streets of London, but the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has admitted that any such ticker-tape outing would be delayed due logistical considerations.

An RFU spokesman said on Monday: "Everybody that is part of the equation wants a parade to happen.

"We feel we want to give the England fans every opportunity to see the players and coaches when they come home.

"The logistics and organisation are in hand and it is just a case of discussions with the council and the police over what the ideal route would be.

"Certainly it will not be immediate because of the logistics of getting 31 players back from the clubs to which they will return tomorrow. It will have to be worked around their availability."

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