Jonathan Davies, the former Wales international and BBC pundit, has backed the possibility of Wales moving their home Six Nations fixtures to England in order to play in front of crowds, adding that the resulting revenue would be necessary in order for the game in Wales to survive.
Current government Covid restrictions mean that Wales are set to play their three home Six Nations games against Scotland, France and Italy behind closed doors, denying the Welsh Rugby Union vital revenue from spectators.
Results for the financial year ending June 30, 2021, showed that the WRU suffered a £22 million hit to their revenues as a result of the pandemic, largely due to the lack of spectators at matches which affected investment on all levels of the game in Wales.
Telegraph Sport understands that moving those Six Nations home matches to England, where there are no crowd restrictions, is being considered by the WRU, although potential locations for those matches are still to be determined. Playing matches in Cardiff behind closed doors or with partial crowds are also options, depending on if the Welsh government’s restrictions change in the coming weeks. But faced with the possibility of playing in front of no crowds at present, Davies has called for the WRU to make the best financial decision.
“When the WRU, the regions and Welsh rugby in general are struggling, I think they have to make a decision to survive,” Davies told Telegraph Sport. “That is the important thing here. It’s not about where we play it – can they survive another Six Nations without fans coming in. That’s the decision they have to look at. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would judge them on whatever they did to be honest.
“It happened back in the 1990s when the Principality Stadium was being built. We went to Wembley, some games were successes and some weren’t, but it showed that Welsh fans were willing to travel to support their country. People have to make plans and are waiting on decisions all the time, and there is a lot of finance involved for everyone.
“The crowds add so much. I’m sure the Wales players would maybe rather play in England with a crowd than at home with no crowds. That’s a decision they have to make, I suppose. Ultimately, if they don’t get finances in, maybe the players won’t be getting paid by the regions.
“You have games at Christmas being cancelled in Cardiff, and then across the bridge in Bristol there’s a full house. It’s very frustrating. Especially when you saw Harlequins against Northampton, 78,000 in Twickenham for a club game.
“There are a lot of questions to be answered and big decisions to be made. But at the moment it’s all about finances. It’s a waiting game to see when the Welsh government comes out and makes a decision. From what I hear, the WRU haven’t had any communication or guidance from the government yet, and they’re always waiting on those [communications].
“I don’t care where they play, preferably Wales, but it all depends on revenue. They don’t want to take the game elsewhere, but if they need the money they have to look at alternatives.”
Wales full-back Liam Williams will join Cardiff Rugby from rival region Scarlets next season. Williams is the latest Wales international to sign for Cardiff Rugby, following the earlier signings of flanker Thomas Young from Wasps and Bath No 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Williams, 30, is in his second stint with Scarlets having also played for three years with Saracens, winning the Gallagher Premiership and Champions Cup.