Six Nations 2014: Davies ready to embrace hostility of Twickenham cauldron

 

The hatred may have waned but Jonathan Davies knows the rivalry runs just as deep between England and Wales.

During 104 years of cross-border duels, this fixture has come with its own safety warning. Never was that more the case than for the infamous battle of 1980 – reckoned by former hooker and current Wales team manager Alan Phillips as the "dirtiest" game he ever played.

England won 9-8 win thanks to Dusty Hare's injury-time penalty, though the game will always be remembered for Paul Ringer's red card.

There is little chance of the same skulduggery this weekend, given the phalanx of television cameras. Instead the hostility is channelled, the hits are harder and the aggression given direction.

"I'm sure it will be a hostile atmosphere at Twickenham and a few songs we will not be familiar with. It's going to be special," predicted Jonathan Davies, who steps into the cauldron after four months out injured. "These games are always heated. It's a fierce contest so we will have to find another level, even from the last game against France. There was a real edge and a physicality in the contact area then, but we will have to step it up again.

"The Twickenham factor has always been huge for England so it's fair that they're favourites. Perhaps in the past it has been a factor for Wales but we don't really look into that. We have been to tough places before and played in front of a crowd like that. You just embrace it because it makes winning even better."

Jack Nowell's assessment of the Welsh "hatred" towards England may resonate more with the supporters than players, though beating the old enemy remains just as enjoyable as Wales target a fourth successive win.

"Hate is a strong word. We got on great with the English lads on the Lions tour but we're passionate in Wales," said hooker Richard Hibbard.

The long-haired front-row has swiftly gained a reputation as a fearless competitor. His head-on clash with Joe Marler was among the abiding memories of last year's victory in Cardiff. That paved the way for British Lions selection and ultimately the Test jersey, aided by Dylan Hartley's suspension. "I met Dylan once with the Lions before he was banned. It was a shame because I was quite keen to see what goes on in his head," re-called Hibbard.

"He likes to get into people and sledge opponents but I'm usually oblivious to all that because I'm knackered. He has singled me out as one of Wales' ball-carriers. Well, happy days, because I love the physical side of the game."

Hibbard will be sandwiched between 196 caps of experience in Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, who equals Stephen Jones' record as his country's most-decorated player on his 104th Test appearance. The scrum is an area Wales fancy their chances. Hibbard said: "Graham Rowntree will have worked on England's scrum but it's like a Rubik's Cube, you get close to working it out but it keeps changing."

Clearly what never changes is the rivalry in this fixture.

Saint AndrÉ rings the changes after rout

France coach Philippe Saint-André has made seven changes to his team for Saturday's Six Nations match against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The French will boast a fresh back row following their 27-6 loss to Wales with Sébastien Vahaamahina, Alexandre Lapandry and Damian Chouly brought in. Castres hooker Brice Mach comes in for the injured Dimitri Szarzewski.

Toulon centre Maxime Mermoz replaces the injured Wesley Fofana, who fractured a rib during the Welsh defeat, while Maxime Médard and Maxime Machenaud also start.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness