Wednesday, 3 September 2014

2014/15 Season Preview: Wasps

Founded: 1867
Years in Top Tier: 27
Last Year: 7th in Prem (49 points), Semi Finals of Amlin Challenge Cup, Group Stage Anglo-Welsh
Europe: Champions Cup
Director of Rugby: Dai Young

In: Bradley Davies (Cardiff), James Gaskell (Sale), Rob Miller (Sale), Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso), Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow), Alapati Leiua (Wellington Hurricanes), Ed Shervington (Worcester), Buster Lawrence (Moseley), Thomas Young (Gloucester), Alex Lozowski (Leeds), John Yapp (London Irish), Sailosi Tagicackibau (London Irish)
Out: Neil Cochrane (Edinburgh) James Short (Loan Ends-London Irish), Tom Palmer (Gloucester), Harry Williams (Jersey), Tommy Bell (Jersey), Matt Everard (Nottingham), Estaban Lozada (Unknown), Ricky Reeves (London Welsh), Taione Vea (London Welsh), Brett Sheehan (Narbonne), Andrew Suniula (Unknown), Liam O’Neil (Nottingham), Joe Carlisle (Treviso), Rory Pittman (Llanelli), Charlie Hayter (England 7s)
Ins: 12
Outs: 15

Wasps sealed their place in the Champions Cup with a 50-35 aggregate victory over Stade Francais after finishing 7th in the Premiership.  Injuries took their main wing threats Wade and Varndell for practically all of last season, so with both now restored for full fitness surely the only way is up for the sensibly rechristened Wasps?

New signings Lorenzo Cittadini and Bradley Davies are top quality operators in the tight five adding to a unit with a growing reputation.  Last season Cooper-Woolley was a revelation in the front row after joining straight from university rugby whilst half Fijian half Samoan number 8 Nathan Hughes is mulling over which international ring to throw his hat in.

In the backline they have added the exciting Alapatu Leiua from Wellington and Rob Miller from Sale, with Varndell, Wade and Masi already in tow and Andy Goode to pull the strings they have a dangerous backline for the drier months with firmer pitches.

But Wasps have a habit of finding the problems.  With a vocal group of fans unhappy with Wycombe and wanting a return to London the powers that be are instead rumoured to be in talks with the Ricoh Arena of Coventry! 

Were this to come to pass, and journalist Neil Fissler is adamant it will, it would cause huge disruption to the team as surely there would be protests from fans and dissent from players who signed for a London club?  Whether they would re-brand again as Coventry Wasps, or perhaps Holbrooks Hornets, we will have to wait to find out.

No major leavers, a settled coaching team, key players returning to fitness and a sprinkling of top signings means that Wasps should be well placed to press onto the top 6, if not quite the play offs.  But I just can’t see it.

Prediction: 7th

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