Aviva Premiership: Dai Young wants Wasps to celebrate resurrection
Aviva Premiership: Dai Young reflects on London Wasps's progress after a 38-30 win against Gloucester
Dai Young has urged his club to celebrate their resurrection as they stand on the brink of a play-off to return to European rugby’s elite.
The 38-30 win over Gloucester on Easter Saturday moved London Wasps into seventh place, which if they can hold on to it through the final two rounds of the Aviva Premiership, will set up a two-legged encounter with the seventh place side from the French Top14 for the right to compete in the new Rugby Champions Cup.
We’ve got a couple of important games left – we haven’t won anything, we haven’t achieved anything, but we’ve given ourselves a chance
“My job is results and performances on the field, but I think we need to celebrate how far we’ve come in the last couple of seasons off the field,” Young said.
“We couldn’t have dreamt of putting on something like this over the last two seasons. A lot of work has gone on and it’s great that we’re back staging big games.
The High Wycombe-based club—two-time winners of the Heineken Cup and four-time Premiership champions between 2003 and 2008 under the leadership of Warren Gatland and then Sir Ian McGeechan—are still rebuilding from the financial mess which has blighted them since those halcyon days which saw a rapid fall from grace which culminated in them finishing 11th in the Premiership in 2012, narrowly avoiding relegation.
With a new principal shareholder in Irish businessman Derek Richardson, Wasps’ fortunes off the field are progressing, as they are on the field, but Young is cautious not to get too carried away.
“It’s easy to say it’s just another Premiership game, but it wasn’t really,” Yound added. “There’s a lot of work gone into this. Gloucester would’ve loved to have spoiled our party and we had to make sure they didn’t.
“We’ve got a couple of important games left – we haven’t won anything, we haven’t achieved anything, but we’ve given ourselves a chance.”
Wasps take on Bath in the semi-final of the Amlin Challenge Cup next week—the same opponents they defeated to win the trophy in 2003—but Young admits the prospect of stepping up to compete against Europe’s biggest names is a step which will test the club even further and believes is one the board may not want so soon, even if the players do.
“Obviously it’s a big challenge and we’ve seen that in the last couple of seasons with Exeter and Sale,” Young said. “It’s a real step up and will really test the squad. For the Amlin, that’s not an easy competition, but it does give you an opportunity within the group. Sometimes it’s a little bit easier to get a draw there so you can rest the boys in one or two games.
“It’s different going to Toulouse or Leinster and then you’ve got to go back to the Premiership, so it definitely tests your squad.”
And Wasps’ squad has certainly been tested despite the continued rise of lock Joe Launchbury, who established himself in the England set-up, and Fijian forward Nathan Hughes, who was again outstanding from number 8.
Injuries to wing pair Christian Wade and Tom Varndell—Wasps’ prolific try-scorer—has heaped pressure on a young backline to deliver and Young admits the lack of clinical finishing has cost them.
“We’ve missed a lot of cutting edge and we’ve played well in a lot of games, but come away with three-pointers rather than seven-pointers,” he added.
“That little bit of cutting edge and stardust can get you those seven-pointers. Today I thought we scored seven tries: five for us and two for them.
“It certainly kept everyone on their seat and Gloucester being Gloucester you can never switch off, they attacked us from every angle and on occasions we were hanging on by our boot laces.”