Cities hosting RWC camps gear up to welcome teams

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — With the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan kicking off on Sept. 20, municipalities chosen as training camp locations for teams participating in the quadrennial tournament are ramping up preparations to welcome them.

The city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, will be welcoming the Samoan national team for pretournament training from Tuesday to Sept. 15. The Samoan side, which will face Japan in the third match of Pool A in the group stage, will partner with the city to hold photograph-taking and hand-shaking events, and offer rugby classes for elementary and junior high school students.

Iwaki is pulling out all the stops to create a festive atmosphere for hosting the team, also known as Manu Samoa, such as offering desserts made with cacao beans, a Samoan specialty, at lunches for elementary and junior high schools.

“I’m looking forward to the training camp,” 10-year-old Fuya Abe, a fifth-grader at the city’s Miwa Elementary School, said. “I play tennis, but I would like to also try rugby.”

The city of Kitakyushu plans to welcome rugby powerhouse Wales for its public practice session at a local stadium on Sept. 16 with a citizen’s group singing “Calon Lan,” a Welsh hymn often sung by the team’s fans before matches. The city government’s International Sports Competition Promotion Office is calling on residents to come watch the session in order to fill the stadium, with a seating capacity of about 15,000.

“The city as a whole wants to cheer on [the Welsh team] so that they can become champions of the World Cup,” Kitakyushu Mayor Kenji Kitahashi said.

Banners featuring images of Tongan rugby players and the country’s flag adorned the streets in the shopping district in the center of Kochi, with the southern Pacific team set to arrive in Japan soon. At a welcoming party on Monday, the team will be greeted with seared bonito and other local delicacies, and sake, as well as Tongan food made with coconut milk.Speech

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