Wales chairman Gareth Davies believes that Eddie Jones' comments about England having to be ready for the hostility that might await them in Cardiff on Sunday have added "spice to a fixture that needs no spice".

Davies knows all about the intensity of an Anglo-Wales encounter having played in the 1980 match at Twickenham when Wales flanker Paul Ringer was sent off "in the nastiest game I ever played in".

"It was a horrible atmosphere at Twickenham that day, which was very unusual for up there, barbs being thrown at us," said Davies. "Paul was sent off but there could have been three or four others from either side that might have followed him."

Davies anticipates a full-bore occasion at the Principality Stadium. The 61-year-old former Wales and Lions five-eighths, who took over the chairmanship of the Welsh Rugby Union over two years ago, laughed when he read Jones' comments.


"Eddie is good value. There will be those in the Wales public who will take exception and I'm sure [Wales head coach] Rob Howley might use some of it. To my mind, it is all directed by Eddie towards his own team, to get them fired up. It all adds to the mix. Wales-England is the big game for us, especially down here.

"It always has been for all the usual near-neighbours and Big Brother reasons. You can see it means a lot to England too from the way that they have started the week with those sort of comments."

Davies, who has a varied business portfolio from head of sport at BBC Wales to stints in regional rugby, acknowledges that the success of the national team is paramount to the well-being of the entire operation in Wales.

"The fortunes of the team drive almost everything," said Davies, who was charged with helping improve the fractured relationship between the union and its four cash-strapped regions and has been productive in that regard.

"We don't take anything for granted and are determined to keep the love for the sport in Wales alive and to nurture the pathway of talent."

Three Grand Slams have been achieved since the turn of the Millennium. Yet the game in Wales is at a delicate balancing point. The national team are in decent shape but the regional game has acute difficulties. Football is an ever-present rival attraction.

"Yes, but it has always been played by many in Wales and I grew up doing just that," said Davies. "Football is not the issue. Funding is. It is the problem that gives me the most heartache. The gap between us and the English and French clubs is ever-widening.

"We do want our players here but there are economic realities and I do wonder if we should look at the Australian model where players with more than 60 caps can play overseas and still be available for the Wallabies," said Davies. "We are looking at all sorts of options and we don't have the answer but we all have to make it work."

And to that end, victory for Howley's side on Sunday would be a boost on so many levels.