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Fans bring splash of colour from miles away.

Byline: Tyler Mears Reporter

AUSTRALIA kicked off their Rugby World Cup campaign against Fiji yesterday and Cardiff was awash with excitement.

The capital city was full of Australian and Fijian fans and despite the grey skies the streets were a brilliant sea of blue and yellow as supporters awaited the high-pressure clash in the Fanzone.

The free facility opened on Friday and attracted more than 35,000 people. It features two big screens - one of which is under a temporary roof - musical entertainment and rugbybased games and activities.

It is right next to the Millennium Stadium, and many new visitors to Cardiff could also be seen stopping to admire the national stadium of Wales from the Fanzone.

A number of Australian fans travelled half-way around the world to arrive in Cardiff, and could be spotted dressed in outback hats, zebra costumes and Wallabies shirts.

Steven and Clare McGregor have been travelling for the past eight months and made the long journey to Cardiff from Sydney.

Steven said: "We travel quite a lot and have been to lots of places, but I made sure I came here for this game. Cardiff is fantastic and has some great beer!

"The weather could be better but the sun made a bit of an appearance in the morning so I couldn't be happier!" Dawn and Ian Welsby, who are originally from Cardiff but have been living in Australia for 12 years, also travelled back for the World Cup.

Ian said: "We've come here to watch five games all together and it's brilliant to come back to Cardiff - although knowing the Welsh weather, we could do with some more shelter on the Fanzone.

"The Australia v Wales game is going to be tough for us, we want Australia to win but we're obviously going to be supporting Wales in our hearts too."

Hundreds of Fijian fans also made the 16,000km trip to Cardiff to watch the match, including a traditional Fijian warrior and a Fijian band.

Jane West, who works at the Tourism Fiji stall, said: "It's absolutely brilliant here in Cardiff this year, the best one yet. We always have a great time when we come to Wales and I know the Fijians always look forward to playing Wales and feel at home here.

"I think there are at least 500 Fijians here in Cardiff this week and it could be up to 1,000 by next week. They're just happy people with a great sense of humour so I'm sure they'll feel right at home in Cardiff."

One couple, Sara and Kavu, who were travelling to Cardiff from Fiji, also got caught in traffic on the M4 and were hoping to make it to the city centre by the time the game started.

Jane said: "I hope they can make it here soon, they're very excited about coming to Cardiff but the traffic has been a nightmare.

"They were hoping to come and do some traditional Fijian arts and crafts at the Tourism Fiji stall and to teach people about traditional Fijian life."

There was a reported eight miles of stop-start traffic on the M4 yesterday as thousands of fans headed into Cardiff for the match.

And the game didn't only attract fans from Australia and Fiji, a number of visitors from across the globe also travelled to the Welsh capital for the Rugby World Cup.

Elena Dabrio and her parents Felix and Ana travelled to Cardiff from Spain and were planning on taking a tour of Wales after the game.

Elena said: "We love the energy here and the atmosphere for the rugby. We also love the weather, it's so hot in Spain it's a welcome relief to be cold, although my mum had to buy some new warm clothes.

"My dad said being in Cardiff to support Fiji is the best day of his life, apart from the day when I was born of course!" Danielle Ordon and her family also travelled to Cardiff from France to watch the match.

She said: "We're from France but we've come to Cardiff to support Fiji. We've never been to Cardiff before but it's a lovely city and we can't wait to explore it over the next couple of days."


Fiji fans in fancy dress

The McFadden family from Sydney

A young girl holds a Fijian flag ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Australia and Fiji at the Millennium Stadium, CardiffLAURENCE GRIFFITHS
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 24, 2015
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