ANGLO-AUSTRALIAN rivalries are rising in the North-East in the run-up to this weekend's rugby union World Cup showdown in Sydney.

The mounting interest in Saturday's final in Australia is also reaping rewards for two businesses in Durham.

The Walkabout Australian theme bar, in Durham, has been granted a special licence to open early on Saturday.

This will allow the bar to cater for rugby fans who want to savour the big match atmosphere while also enjoying a drink.

Staff at the North Road bar include a number of Australians, who are expecting a lively time from the England-supporting clientele on Saturday.

Assistant manage Chris Joubert, from South Africa, is sitting on the fence about the result.

She said: "Interest is growing. Although it was slow at first, it has certainly started to pick up as England have made it through to the later stages.

"With it being an England-Australia final it couldn't have been better for us.

"We're hoping it's a great climax to the competition."

Meanwhile, business is also booming at the Durham branch of rugby sportswear store Canterbury of New Zealand.

Assistant Chris Lomas said the new figure-hugging England shirts were in demand, especially among Durham's student population.