Wales given unique reception as 15,000 Japanese fans watch training

Over 15,000 fans attended Wales's open training session in Kitakyushu, Japan on Monday ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Warren Gatland's Wales squad have chosen Kitakyushu as their pre-tournament training camp and the city has embraced the squad as its second team, with three separate queues of fans nearly half a mile long awaiting entry to the team's open training session.

The event was the highest attendance recorded at the Kitakyushu Stadium with a packed crowd of 15,300 fans, organisers said.

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 Kitakyushu Stadium to watch the Six Nations champions train ahead of their World Cup opener against Georgia on Sept. 23.

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 cakes being sold in local shops and school children learning the country's national anthem.

"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.

"I've never experienced anything like this in my career. It's astonishing and it's been really emotional," former Wales captain Ryan Jones said in a statement.

"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 the players' faces when they came out 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, and they love the colour red."