This is massive. It has been edging closer, now the day has finally arrived, Saturday 5th May, the last day of the league season. Surely the unthinkable can’t happen, the future is simply not worth considering. Today, Wasps will be fighting for their lives, make no mistake. If they beat Newcastle, then all will be well and their future in the top flight of English rugby will be assured and their future with the financiers may be too. If they lose then it all comes down to bonus points and margins of victory, Newcastle may top them and Wasps would be relegated and the future suddenly appears very bleak, indeed will there be a future at all?
Wasps are a special club, unique in so many ways with a proud and distinguished history. They emanate from humble surroundings in Sudbury, north west London to now sharing a stadium with Wycombe Wanderers Football Club, They have never owned their own ground in the professional era, they lack identity, they are poorly supported, they have arguably the worst training facilities in the Premiership and beyond. So what is it that has made them such a force? It is all about spirit, it is a club about it’s players and playing for each other, creating a friendship and a bond that lasts forever. It is said, to the envy of other clubs, “Once a Wasp, Always a Wasp” and this mantra is held in high esteem by those who have ever worn the famous black and gold.
2003 to 2008 was a golden era for Wasps. They were quite simply champions, champions of England on four occasions and champions of Europe twice, quite unbelievable achievements. Many scribes have written that this was arguably the greatest club side ever in the history of the game. Maybe, and whilst that may be taking it one step too far, the club certainly had an aura of invincibility. They played with a desire, a fierce determination and with a will to win. More than that, they had belief and an intangible quality of knowing how to win and how to perform on the big occasion. Nine Twickeham finals, nine Twickenham victories tells its own story.
Alas it couldn’t last. The moment Lawrence Dallaglio bade farewell, as he left the field of play for the last ever time to rich acclaim as Wasps defeated Leicester in the European Cup Final at Twickenham in 2009, was the moment it all changed. The leader, the talisman had gone, and it would never be the same again. He was a collosus and inspired all those who played with him. Legends were created and trophies paraded.
Those glory days are now well and truly over. Players have moved on or retired, the club has been ravaged by injury, debts are mounting, the club is for sale and potential suitors will only buy if it’s position in the Premiership is maintained. These are desperate times, the club is now literally fighting for it’s very existence.
And now it’s all about one match. 80 minutes of rugby. Death or glory. Wasps are pinning their hopes on youth and this is an opportunity for a new generation to write their names in the history books, in what is arguably the most important match in the club’s rich history. Let the battle commence. Allez Wasps!
5 May 2012