Play-off Winners

WaspsOn Sunday 18th May I was back at Adams Park for the first time in a while, and the last time this season, to see London Wasps hang on to secure a 30-29 win over Stade Francais to be in the driving seat of the the two leg play off for the final place in next seasons new European Champions Cup competition. It was was an amazing game which could have seen Wasps finish with a commanding lead, but for the French team not giving up and fighting hard to get back into the game. The weather was perfect as was the atmosphere around the ground.

Today, Saturday 24th May, London Wasps produced an almost perfect performance to seal there place with a 6-20 win away in Paris. An aggregate score of 35-50!

Dai Young, Wasps Director of Rugby, said after the match:

“I thought that we were excellent today. It was probably the first time we have played for the full 80 minutes. We did very little wrong throughout the game and I certainly felt like we wanted it more than them today. The boys did themselves proud and I am really proud of their efforts today.”

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European Play-off

imageBack at the beginning of March I wrote a blog talking about my team, London Wasps, and how the season was over as far as my attending live games was concerned. That was unless we reached the European Challenge (Amlin) Cup Final or the Premiership play-off’s. Unfortunately we didn’t beat Bath in the Amlin semi-final going down 18 – 24. The Premiership play-off’s require a top four finish; we managed a respectable 7th.

And so that was it. Season over!

Well not quite.

The principle European club competition, the Heineken Cup, has been under pressure for some time due to the entry allocation and the general way it has been organised. This got so bad that all the Premiership teams, along with the French, had resigned from the competition completely and were in the process of setting up something themselves. Finally the issues were resolved and a new, replacement, European club competition format agreed – The European Rugby Champions Cup was born.

Now all this is very interesting but what has it got to do with this season? Well let me explain ….

In the new competition the first 6 placed teams go through automatically, same as previously, but this year the team in 7th place in both the Premiership and Ligue Nationale de Rugby (French union) play-off to decide who will take the 20th and final place in the new competition.

The draw took place and the dates confirmed as follows:

  • Sunday 18th May : London Wasps v Stade Français
  • Saturday 24th May : Stade Français v London Wasps

The upshot of all this is that I get to see my favourite team run out at Adams Park one last time this season which is a great bonus for me.

Come on you Wasps!

 

Season over?

imageWell the season isn’t over yet for the club but due to work commitments it is for me; well as far as live games are concerned anyway. Saturdays loss to Sale Sharks was probably my last home game so unless we make the European Challenge (Amlin) Cup final or the Aviva Premiership semi-final I will have to wait until August to see my team run out again. This means that I am going to miss such gems as the Stinger at Twickenham or the home Amlin cup quarter final both against Gloucester Rugby. Of course I will still be able to follow the games on twitter, or more likely catchup in the morning due to the time difference, but it wont be the same.

This season the club have targeted a top six finish, which up until the last few matches was looking probable, but a drop in form, coinciding with international call-ups and injuries, now means that we have a bit of an up hill struggle ahead of us. Currently in seventh and only one point ahead of Bath, we are 8 points behind Sale Sharks.

I have followed London Wasps for a few years now starting back when Lawrence Dallaglio was still captain. Although I wasn’t at Twickenham I remember well the 2008 Premiership win which allowed him to finish his playing career at the very top.

Since then there has been a lot of transition and, it is safe to say the results have not been as good as hoped. However the real low point came at the end of the 2011/2012 season when we finished just 1 point above relegation leaving Newcastle Falcons to take the drop. Our very last game was against Newcastle and although they beat us it wasn’t by enough points; they won the battle but lost the war!

I don’t recall the exact numbers but I believe we lost three or four senior players to injury forced retirement and had something like two thirds of the first team on the treatment table. This was Dia Young’s first season as Director of Rugby, he really must of wondered what he had taken on. I recall matches where London Wasps were forced to scrape around the lower divisions simply to be able to put a team out! But this was also the year of Joe Launchbury, Christian Wade and Billy Vunipola who stepped up to the mark and helped to save the premiership position.

2012/2013 saw things come together a little better and although there was still a long way to go a more comfortable eighth place finish was achieved. The year also saw the business side of the club stabilised. Following the decision of Steve Hayes to sell up not only were things difficult on the pitch, the business faced bankruptcy. But with new owners stepping in finally everything was on the up.

And so to this season. Currently 7th, but with six games to play there is still the possibility of achieving the 6th place finish that has been targeted. I had hoped to see it, but as I say I will following the run in on Twitter!

Good luck @WaspsRugby. Once a wasp, always a wasp!