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This week Matt and Jamie talk through some of the other nations...
OPINION: London Wasps’s slow resurgence over the last few years was underlined by some emphatic performances in the European Champions Cup over the past few weeks.
And it seems as if the young squad has finally come of age with two stellar showings leaving European giants Leinster and Toulon wondering what had hit them, definitely implanting seeds of doubt in how to handle the now Coventry-based side on the return leg – matches that will be near impossible to win should Wasps present the same vigour and intensity that they did in their most recent hit outs.
While it is absolutely too early to suggest that they are returning to their glory days of the mid 2000s where they were virtually unparalleled on the pitch, both domestically and in Europe, they have given themselves a good platform with which to mount a genuine tilt at both titles in the 2015/2016 season.
It is important, however, to remember that Wasps have failed to win any silverware since the 2007/2008 season when they beat Leicester Tigers to win the then Guinness Premiership.
And if they’re going to really announce themselves as genuine contenders in the Aviva Premiership and in Europe, they need to overcome the psychological barrier that accompanies failure to go deep into the aforementioned competitions since winning the competition in 2008.
So far, there doesn’t seem to be any psychological deficiency as far as European rugby is concerned but it’s important they build on this good start to the season.
Surely, if you were to tell Coach Dai Young that his team, drawn in the Champion’s Cup so-called Group of Death that they would rack up a cumulative total of 65 points to just four penalties collectively against both Leinster and Toulon, he and the rest of the team would have laughed in your face. And considering their 8th position on the Aviva Premiership table, they probably would have had good reason to.
But with their fast start in Europe somewhat an unexpected treat, it’s now up to Young and his youngish squad to transfer the belief and lack of fear they are showing in the Champions Cup into their Premiership campaign.
What’s impressive about this team (and probably something that has assisted their cause) is that they have a low number of regular internationals in their squad with Joe Launchbury and James Haskell the only players to feature in England’s failed World Cup campaign.
Players such as Elliot Daly and Christian Wade arguably should have been involved in the World Cup squad given their finish to last season but it wasn’t to be and such, they’ve been able to have a solid and inclusive build up to the season relatively unscathed in terms of player absences as well as the scarring from World Cup pool elimination.
Their runner-up spot in the Premiership Sevens, a competition they should really have sealed, demonstrated their intent right from the get go and it seems they are playing with a new found confidence that fans and coaches will be hoping stays with them for the duration of this season.
While they’ve nailed a 100% winning start to their European campaign, as the old cliche goes, the competition isn’t won in the first fortnight. But they’ve showed that they may be back on the rise and that they have the firepower to beat the best in their own backyard.
From an English fan’s point of view, it’s great to see the drive in the Wasps squad, particularly from those who missed out on International honours and those really looking to nail down a spot in England’s Six Nations campaign.
First and foremost, however, they need to back up their good start to their European campaign by translating it to results on the field for the rest of the season