Rugby World Cup 2019: More than 15,000 fans turn up to Wales' first training session

More than 15,000 Japanese fans turned up in ‘magic’ scenes to watch Wales’s first training session in Japan.

The Welsh national team turned up to Kitakyushu Stadium to find the astonishing crowd, some of which queued for up to three hours outside the ground.

Ahead of their opening game on September 23rd, against Georgia, supporters turned up in their numbers and sang the Welsh national anthem as part of the festivities.

Former Wales skipper Ryan Jones, who has spent time in the region ahead of the World Cup, called the atmosphere ‘astonishing’ and ‘magic’.

Spectators watch Wales' team training in Kitakyushu, western Japan, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)
Wales' rugby team players work out in front of the spectators in Kitakyushu, western Japan, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)

"I've never experienced anything like this in my career. It's astonishing and it's been really emotional,” the 38-year-old said.

"It's been like hosting a party. We got up this morning and we were saying 'oh, I hope it goes well today and people will turn up'. Then to see the queues and then to see the players' faces when they came out, it was just magic.

"It has exceeded all our expectations. But what has really warmed my heart is that it has shown how really strong the brand of Welsh rugby is. People know it's us, they love the colour red, but also how powerful rugby is.

"The dream was to turn the city red and we've done that. They weren't a host city and we wanted to bring the Rugby World Cup to them.

"It's great as the guys are one week out from our first game and to have an experience like this bring it home how amazing an event it is. It will give the players a huge lift."

Jones has been part of a group sent by the Welsh Rugby Union to the region, over the past year and a half, to help encourage fans and raise awareness ahead of the World Cup.

The tournament kicks off on Friday with hosts Japan facing Russia.

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