England rugby fans get a Japanese welcome 6,000 miles from home

England fans get a Japanese welcome 6,000 miles from home as their rugby heroes open their World Cup campaign against lowly Tonga

  • Supporters dressed in both Union Jack and St George’s flags have descended on the city of Sapporo 
  • The clash against the Pacific Islands team is due to kick off at 11.15am UK time, but festivities have started 
  • Thousands of UK fans are expected to make 6,000-mile trip over the course of the month -long tournament 

England will be cheered by an army of travelling fans in their opening bid for Rugby World Cup glory as they prepare for their showdown with Tonga in Japan this morning.

Supporters dressed in both Union Jack and St George’s flags have descended on the city of Sapporo for the national team’s first group stage match of the competition.

The clash against the Pacific Islands team is due to kick off at 6.15pm local time (11.15am UK time), but fans have been enjoying the competition’s festivities before taking their seats, making full use of the local and pop-up bars.   

Thousands of Britons are expected to make the 6,000-mile trip over the course of the tournament – which pits England as one of the favourites alongside defending champions New Zealand.  

Supporters dressed in both Union Jack and St George’s flags have descended on the city of Sapporo for the national team’s first group stage match of the competition

England will be cheered by an army of travelling fans in their opening bid for Rugby World Cup glory as they prepare for their showdown with Tonga in Japan this morning

Merry English fans make their way to the stadium prior to the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group C game between England and Tonga at the Sapporo Dome

The clash against the Pacific Islands team is due to kick off at 11.15am UK time, but fans have been enjoying the competition’s festivities before taking their seats, making full use of the local and pop-up bars

Two England fans ride the metro in Sapporo on the team’s opening match against Tonga in Japan for the Rugby World Cup this afternoon

Those who have tickets for England’s opener appeared in high spirits before kick off and were pictured waving St George’s flags outside the Sapporo Dome stadium

Those who have tickets for England’s opener appeared in high spirits before kick off and were pictured clutching foamy pints outside the Sapporo Dome stadium.

Fearing that overseas supporters will drink the Japanese outlets dry, official tournament sponsor Heineken has increased its beer production by 80 per cent. 

Today’s pool C match has been billed as a David and Goliath-like encounter, with Eddie Jones’ men ranked as the world number three side and Tonga much further down the table at 15th. 

But although their players are considered underdogs, proud Tongan supporters rallied in good numbers as they made their way into the ground with fellow rugby lovers. 

Earlier in the day, a home nations showdown saw hotly-tipped Ireland thrash Scotland 27-3 in their pool A opening game.   

Although their team is considered an underdog, Tongan supporters rallied in good numbers as they made their way into the ground 

England fans represent their nation inside the Sapporo Dome as they wait for kick off in the team’s opening match against Tonga

A group of spectators dressed in snorkel gear poke fun at the England squad, which famously crashed out of the competition in 2015 after failing to break out of the pool stage

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