Cardiff beats NZ for rugby crowd at world cup semi

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There will be more fans at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to watch Wales play in the Rugby World Cup semi-final than at the actual match in New Zealand.

The Welsh Rugby Union said about 65,000 free tickets have now gone to people who want to watch the match on big screens in the stadium on Saturday.

Eden Park, the venue in Auckland where Wales play France at 09:00 BST, holds only 60,000.

Wales captain Sam Warburton said the team was amazed at the home support.

The game has been billed as the biggest in many years for Welsh rugby and if Wales win it will be the first time they have reached the tournament's final.

Warburton said: "We are delighted with the level of support we keep hearing about from Wales.

"It is amazing to think the Millennium Stadium will be so crowded for a game we are playing thousands of miles away."

Stadium manager Gerry Toms said: "It will be quite unique.

"When we sat and planned this we thought if we could get 20,000 or 25,000 people to come to the stadium early on a Saturday to watch Wales it would be an achievement."

An additional giant screen is being erected with around 25,000 spectators expected to watch the match on the floor of the stadium and the rest in the seats in the middle and upper levels.

Ticket touts

Although tickets were free some have started to appear on internet auction sites with people bidding over £50 for a pair.

Image caption,
Staff at Rhondda Housing Association in Tonypandy wore their red shirts to work

Malcolm Norris said he had tried to secure free tickets for his wife and two daughters online and is annoyed others are trying to cash in.

"It's really disappointing and annoying people are seeking to profiteer from tickets that are free," he said.

Asked for their reaction to the online sales of free tickets, the Welsh Rugby Union would only say that they were available at no charge until Thursday evening.

Pob lwc

While the game is also being shown on a big screen in Swansea's Castle Square, it will not be on on the one in the Hayes area of Cardiff.

A Cardiff council spokesperson said there was only "limited capacity" for spectators in the city centre.

"Our aim is to ensure a balanced offer for the many visitors who will visit the capital on Saturday - whether their preference is rugby or retail."

As World Cup fever mounts, with pubs and rugby clubs opening on Saturday morning, Welsh fans have been asked to turn up for work on Friday dressed in their rugby jerseys of the red of the national team.

Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson has added his support to the Welsh team - in Welsh - on Twitter.

He tweeted: "Pob lwc i'r Cymry yn erbyn Ffrainc. I'r gad!"("Good luck to the Welsh against France. To war!").

In New Zealand, over 100 media representatives attended the team announcement press conference at the Welsh squad's central Auckland hotel.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny said: "It is mad. I have never seen so much media attention in all my life.

"For every single one of us, it is all new territory.

"I have spoken to my friends and family, and they've said the place is going mad back home.

"Because we are away from it, I don't think we have got a proper sense of it."

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