Rugby Union fans travelling to Britain for next year's World Cup face a chronic shortage of bedspaces, according to one of the major incoming tour operators.

Gloucestershire-based Gullivers Sports Travel is currently trying to arrange package deals for thousands of fans worldwide, and particularly those in the corporate sector.

But director David Hall said: "The firm is really struggling to find as many suitable beds as we need" prior to the semi-finals in London and the final itself in Cardiff on 29 October.

"We have been looking at two- to five-star hotels but are even prepared to look at alternative accommodation such as hostels, camps and universities," he said.

"For the final we have been trying to book accommodation anywhere within a 90-mile radius of Cardiff, and have arranged some boat accommodation in the city - although clients would clearly prefer to stay on dry land."

Similar problems were experienced in the last Rugby World Cup in South Africa, according to Hall. "I think the sheer size of the event tends to be underestimated by many people," he added.

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