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Rugby World Cup: French speech and Welsh hymn mark Wales arrival in Versailles

Wales' squad have received a warm welcome in Versailles on their arrival at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The Urdd Choir sang as Wales left the Vale of Glamorgan hotel base on Sunday morning before flying to Paris.

Warren Gatland's players were then officially greeted at ceremony on Sunday evening at their tournament base on the outskirts of the French capital.

Fly-half Dan Biggar delivered a speech in French while Corey Domachowski led a rendition of Welsh hymn Calon Lan.

"It was amazing, wasn't it?" said Biggar.

"That's what World Cups and coming to amazing places like this are all about.

"It's been a long build-up for us through the summer and everyone has talked about the World Cup for a long time. Everybody is just glad it's here."

Dan Biggar delivers a two-minute speech in French at Wales' official World Cup welcome ceremony in Versailles
Dan Biggar delivers a two-minute speech in French at Wales' official World Cup welcome ceremony in Versailles

Biggar joined Toulon in November 2022 and has been having French lessons with his speech greeted by a rousing ovation from the Versailles locals.

"It was pretty nerve wracking, especially because I haven't been in France for a few months now," said Biggar.

"It was a little bit rusty. In France it's nice to show a little bit of willing.

"The people here put on a brilliant show for us so it was nice to give a little bit back in their language. I'm sure my French teacher will correct me on a few bits and pieces but hopefully it went down okay."

Cardiff prop Domachowski had been given the responsibility of leading the choir.

"Not a huge amount of work has gone into that if I'm honest," said Biggar.

"Corey has been in charge, we've had a couple of sessions before training, but not a huge amount.

"Hopefully we play better than we sing. There has been no outside help, we've done it all ourselves. We managed to just about blag it."

Wales will travel to four different venues across France from their base just outside Paris.

Wales will play Fiji, Portugal, Australia and Georgia with the top two sides going through to the quarter-finals.

The tournament kicks off on Friday, 8 September with hosts France playing New Zealand in Paris. Wales' opening game is against Fiji in Bordeaux on Sunday, 10 September.

Gatland effect

Wales players leave the Vale of Glamorgan base to travel to France on Sunday morning
Wales players leave the Vale of Glamorgan base to travel to France on Sunday morning

Wales will be hoping to at least emulate the last three World Cup tournaments under Warren Gatland. The New Zealander returned to the Wales job in December 2022 after leaving the position in 2019 following a 12-year stint in charge.

This included reaching two World Cup semi-finals in 2011 and 2019 and a quarter-final in 2015.

In their first World Cups, Ospreys pair Jac Morgan and Dewi Lake have been selected as co-captains of the 33-man squad for the 2023 competition.

George North will be playing in his fourth tournament, while lock Dafydd Jenkins, 20, is the youngest member of the squad and is charged with the tradition of carrying around a Welsh lovespoon for the tournament.

Wales pool matches

Wales v Fiji, Bordeaux, Sunday, 10 September 20:00 BST

Wales v Portugal, Nice, Saturday, 16 September 16:45 BST

Wales v Australia, Lyon, Sunday, 24 September 20:00 BST

Wales v Georgia, Nantes, Saturday, 7 October 14:00 BST.

Wales squad

Forwards: Taine Basham, Adam Beard, Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Ryan Elias, Taulupe Faletau, Tomas Francis, Dafydd Jenkins, Dewi Lake (co-captain), Dillon Lewis, Dan Lydiate, Jac Morgan (co-captain), Tommy Reffell, Will Rowlands, Nicky Smith, Gareth Thomas, Henry Thomas, Christ Tshiunza, Aaron Wainwright.

Backs: Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Dan Biggar, Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies, Rio Dyer, Mason Grady, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams.