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Rugby - 15,000 fans watch Wales training in Kitakyushu

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By Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) – About 15,000 fans attended Wales’s open training session in the southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu on Monday ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland’s Welsh squad have chosen Kitakyushu as their pre-tournament training camp and the city has embraced Wales as its second team.

The Welsh Rugby Union has been keen to build relationships in Kitakyushu, hosting a series of training camps in the city over the past 12 months.

Taking advantage of a public holiday in Japan, thousands of fans queued up to get into the Mikuni World Stadium to see the players of the Six Nations champions they have heard so much about.

In preparation for the Wales squad’s arrival, the city has been decked out in red, with the dragon flag flying outside the main train station, Welsh tea cakes being sold in local shops and school children learning the country’s national anthem.

The Welsh players have been amazed by their welcome.

“You see people driving past when you stop at traffic lights and they will recognise the three feathers and they start banging the windows and waving, “ centre Owen Watkin said.

Wales will stay in Kitakyushu for the rest of the week before beginning their World Cup campaign against Georgia in Toyota City on Sept. 23.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond)