Jonathan Davies has warned that rugby union will face “huge problems” if its international game is unable to restart this autumn.
The Wales legend yesterday completed a 10-day marathon mission to raise much needed funds for the cancer charity closest to his heart.
He then climbed off his bike and admitted that rugby will also require a major cash injection when sport finally re-emerges from the lockdown.
“The international game is what keeps rugby afloat,” said the cross-code legend. “If we can’t do anything in the autumn then I think rugby has huge problems.
“The clubs won’t like to hear this but there’s a pecking order and it comes down to finances. The grass roots desperately need money so the international game has to take priority.”
Rugby’s hope is that postponed Six Nations matches as well as summer tour Tests, which are almost certain to also be called off, can be rescheduled ahead of the November Tests even though October falls outside the international window.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac insists his players are chomping at the bit to get playing again – even if that means two months of almost solid Test rugby.
“Talking to the players, they just want to get back, as everybody does, to some sort of normality,” said the Kiwi, who revealed that up to five of his squad had experienced coronavirus symptoms.
“As soon as they’re allowed to train they will. Player welfare is 100 per cent uppermost in our minds but speaking to them now, if you had to play six or seven Test matches over eight to ten weeks they’d relish the opportunity.”
Wales' autumn programme could see Pivac's men playing their postponed Six Nations match against Scotland then heading to New Zealand for two rescheduled 'June' Tests.
They are then due to host a November programme against Fiji, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa at the Principality Stadium, which is currently a field hospital with 2,000 beds.
With no rugby for the foreseeable future Davies has focused instead on raising awareness of charities struggling due to the loss of mass participation events.
As president of the Velindre NHS Trust, ‘Jiffy’ has helped raise more than £31 million in 12 years. To which another £25,000 can be added from his latest project.
“How anyone can ever question the value of the NHS to this country is beyond me,” said Davies, who shares Velindre ambassadorial duties with, amongst others, star Whitchurch trio Gareth Bale, Geraint Thomas and Sam Warburton.
“Words cannot adequately describe the respect I have for those who work in it.”
A sporting pin-up during his playing career, Davies insists NHS workers are the real heroes.
He spoke movingly of the loss of his dad, Len, and his first wife, Karen, to cancer – and how he will never forget the loving care they received.
"My wife was diagnosed with cancer when she was 34," he said. "The treatment she received at Velindre was unbelievable. I’ll be forever indebted.”
He remembers too how Trimsaran rugby club rallied around the family when his father had to journey to Cambridge for treatment, donating the weekly proceeds of the club raffle to pay for his mum to accompany him.
It is community clubs like that who are now in need of the helping hand. Davies’ hope is that the autumn will deliver it.
For details of Jiffy's charity fund visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JonathanDavies2.6
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