Almost 15,000 local fans turned up to the Kitakyushu Stadium to watch Wales train on the eve of the Rugby World Cup. And they had a surprise for the Six Nations champions.

The full stadium produced a rousing rendition of the Welsh national anthem, Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land Of My Fathers).

The crowd also sang Calon Lan, the hymn closely associated with the sport in Wales, from lyric sheets with Japanese lettering.

Queues to get into the stadium stretched to almost 1km long, forcing Wales to delay the start of the training session.


"I've never experienced anything like this in my career. It's astonishing and really emotional," said former Wales captain Ryan Jones, who is now performance director at the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

"The dream when we started this 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.

"Let's put it into context. This isn't a game, it's a training session. It's a Monday afternoon and there are around 15,000 people here. It has exceeded all our expectations.

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

Wales open their tournament against Georgia on Monday in Toyota City.

"Seeing the players' faces here, they didn't comprehend it," said Jones. "They have never seen anything like that and will remember it forever."