Nearly twenty four hours on from a brutal night in Dublin, the dust is slowly settling on a disappointing evening for Wasps. After a first half which promised much, Leinster’s class took over and the club ended up on the wrong end of a hiding, which was difficult to watch. It seems a long time ago now that I was jumping up and down in the North stand following Elliot Daly scoring one of his best tries for Wasps against the same opposition, which contributed to his side getting fifty points of their own in the same competition. Wasps also beat them in Dublin, comfortably, that year.
I was at the Ricoh last weekend for what I felt was a far more concerning performance in a heavy defeat to Gloucester. There was not a single aspect of that game that Wasps dominated in my view. Bullied up front, cut open in the backs, and a huge number of unforced errors. A really poor display following two really good results away from home, which raised a fair few questions about how this season was going to pan out. The discreet (ahem) new big screen looked good though, despite the score on it after eighty minutes,which was probably the only positive of the visit!
In between these two matches, there was further disappointment for three players. Dan Robson and Joe Launchbury have had operations, ruling them out to the new year, which must be particularity difficult for Robson, given he finally seemed set to get the England cap that his form deserved. Who knows what the outcome of Nathan Hughes’s hearing is going to be, but given his heinous twitter behaviour, Wasps and England fans probably won’t be seeing him until December if I was putting money on it. Fingers crossed the panel see sense and realise Lewis Ludlow probably deserved a little tap to his chops having stamped on a players head earlier.
So, the question is quite simple; is it time to panic, or time to keep the faith? Looking at it with my pint half empty, Wasps have got some issues. Injuries throughout the team to key players, lack of cohesion in defence with tries being shipped aplenty, and as Dai Young pointed out yesterday, Wasps are getting dominated in possession in every game. You might also argue that the attacking style which has set them apart in the league in the past two seasons has, as yet, not been obvious this term.
The glass half full argument. Despite these difficulties, Wasps are third in the league. The new fly half is settling in, and in his last league game, showed supporters what he will bring to this side with three assists. Brad Shields and Thomas Young played well in defeat yesterday, in difficult circumstances, and if they can stay fit, with Nizaam Carr and Hughes at eight, that is suddenly looking like a tasty and balanced back row. Joe Simpson now has an opportunity to remind all of us about his abilities, and have a proper run in the team. Christian Wade has barely had a sniff this season. He is too good not to turn this around, and his improvement will result in more points for him, and more points for the team. Our front row has been an area of strength, and Wasps will soon be welcoming back Jake Cooper-Woolley and Simon McIntyre, which will only enhance options in this department.
I could go on. Ultimately I guess it really boils down to belief. Me personally, I believe that last night should be put into perspective. That Leinster team would beat most international sides, because in reality, it is an international side. The Gloucester performance becomes more of a concern if it is repeated next weekend against Bath. I don’t think it will be, and I believe that Wasps players will spend this week licking their wounds and come out firing on Saturday.
If I am wrong, and I often am, it is not the end of the world. It is not because the players don’t care, which I read last night. It is not because Dai Young is bad at his job, which I read last night. It is because that is sport. It is unpredictable, unforgiving, and not always fair. Surely that is why we enjoy it?
It never ceases to amaze me how much some supporters seem to enjoy calling out players when things are not going well, and criticising the club they supposedly follow. I am not one for blind faith, but cannot stomach some of the absolute nonsense that people spout about the passion and commitment of the players being in doubt. What is good is that some supporters have probably done Young’s team talk for him for Saturday. He should take a snapshot of social media last night and this morning, and pin it up in the dressing room. Apparently the full back cannot catch a high ball, the stand in skipper and British Lion should be dropped, and the new fly half doesn’t care, and is only here for the money. Do me a favour.
As always, it is going to be an interesting few weeks ahead. Enjoy the Bath game, and thanks for reading!