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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October, 2003, 08:54 GMT
Sydney warms to Wales

By Jim Stokes
BBC Sport, Sydney

The red shirts are storming into Sydney in preparation for Sunday's final group game of the World Cup, when a full-strength All Blacks side takes on the three feathers.

To help the Welsh fans prepare for the red-hot battle at the Telstra Stadium there is a little bit of Cymru situated at the Rocks, a lively cosmopolitan pot pourri in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Welsh Tourist Board has set up a massive canvas stage and tent, adorned with the Welsh flag, which has tempted onlookers from all parts of the globe to sample the Hwyl and join in the festivities.

The Welsh fans have created an outpost in Sydney
The Welsh fans have created an outpost in Sydney
Three Welsh bands dutifully hammer out their offering and will do so until Steven Hansen's boyos take the field on Sunday.

It is a showcase for Wales, with the nearby civic centre featuring an exhibition of the spirit of modern Wales.

Quite whether the rugby team also represent that spirit remains to be seen, but so far the idea is causing quite a stir.

Louise Bourne, who runs the stall, said the visitors have been from far afield.

"We decided to do this on the back of the World Cup, as we knew that there would be plenty of visitors to Sydney," she said.

Pulling in the crowds are three young Welsh bands - Mabon, Amy Wadge and Rag Foundation, who are rocking the area.

"The bands we have on show have been a great draw. They have been getting a great reaction," added Louise, in between explaining their presence to a stream of oriental and European travellers.

"They have been playing every day, and proving very popular indeed.

"There have been numerous inquiries, and we are getting a great welcome from the Welsh supporters who are glad to see that their little country is being promoted.

"At least people can now see that we are doing our bit for Wales, and rugby is a great sport to promote it.

"Somebody came up to me the other day, and asked if I could point them to the England stand. I told them there wasn't one, and he thought I was joking and that I just didn't want him to go there.

"The exhibition in the MCA is a showcase of Welsh culture. There is also a genealogy centre where people in Australia can go and trace their Welsh ancestry."

She refused to respond when I asked if the WRU were taking a keen interest in the results!





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