“You can always hear it,” Williams says. “Sometimes Twickenham gets very vocal when England’s doing well, Sweet Chariot rings out, and then you know you’re really up against it. But what I used to enjoy was when they started singing Sweet Chariot when England were under pressure.
You knew the crowd were trying to pick up their side, get them on the front foot. “That happened in 2008: when we had the ascendency in the second half the crowd got vocal. They started singing, but we thought, ‘Hey, we’ve got these guys here. The crowd can see it. Let’s kick this home.’”
Wales need that spirit again if they want to upset the hosts. England have not lost to a northern hemisphere side at Twickenham for three years. The last side to beat them at home? Wales.
But Williams is cautious: “It’s in their back garden, it’s there’s for the taking. Lancaster has bigged up the Twickenham factor, and rightly so: he needs his boys motivated, he needs them to realise they are playing at home, they have family and friends in the crowd – don’t let them down.
Sometimes it’s things like that that get you through the tough games. It’s not all about physical fitness and tempo, sometimes it’s about the emotions, the top two inches. Lancaster is trying to instil that home spirit.”
HQ, Twickers, Fortress Twickenham – this stadium has had many nicknames down the years. Now it has another: the House of Lancaster. It’s been well earned.
Friday 25 September
Pool C: Argentina v Georgia, 4:45pm ITV4
Saturday 26 September
Pool D: Italy v Canada, 2:30pm ITV
Pool B: South Africa v Samoa, 4:45pm ITV
Pool A: England v Wales, 8pm, ITV