Last Updated: 16/09/19 1:12pm
Warren Gatland’s team were watched by 15,000 locals during their training session at the Kitakyushu Stadium
Former captain Ryan Jones believes the Wales squad have been given “a huge lift” ahead of the Rugby World Cup, after 15,000 people queued to watch their open training session in Kitakyushu.
Wales are based in the southern Japanese city, which will not host any matches during the tournament, and arrived at the stadium where they are training to a rendition of the Welsh national anthem from locals.
Warren Gatland’s team get their tournament under way on Monday, September 23 against Georgia, and triple Grand Slam winner Jones says the reception they have received will benefit the players.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my career. It’s astonishing and it has been really emotional,” said Jones, who played for Wales from 2004-2014.
“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’.
Gatland says the depth of his squad gives him confidence ahead of the World Cup
“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. It’s great as the guys are one week out from our first game, and to have an experience like this brings it home how amazing an event it is.
“It will give the players a huge lift. The dream was to turn the city red and we’ve done that.”
Watch highlights of Wales’ 13-6 victory over England at the Principality Stadium
Jones, who helped build links between the Welsh Rugby Union and Kitakyushu, added: “When you look back on things in your career, establishing this has been magnificent.
“Seeing the players when they arrived at the welcome party the other night, and seeing their faces here, they didn’t comprehend it.
“They have never seen anything like that and they will remember it forever. I know we will be back – and long may it continue.”