Around ten years ago, I used to do some counselling work in secondary schools. I met and worked with some truly wonderful young people and look back on that time with absolute fondness. As time has passed, some of the meetings I have are a blur, but some I can recall like they were yesterday. Let me tell you about one; I was referred a student who on paper, had everything going for them. Popular with peers, academically capable, from what you would describe as a wealthy background, and had a supportive and caring family. First words to me, and this is genuinely what was said less than a minute in, ‘I have the worst life of anyone I know’. She really did not, but at that point in time, really thought she did.
The reason why I am sharing this is because I thought about that meeting after the Wasps game on Friday. Reflecting on the result, and the potential of Wasps propping up the table by the end of the weekend, it was easy for me to feel that the problems the club are enduring are completely exclusive, and no other supporters were suffering like us Wasps fans seem to be this season. Linked to this story, Wasps are blessed with support. On paper, they also have a lot going for them; a squad littered with international class players, with a fantastic stadium, and have enjoyed some significant financial backing.
There are two points to this story. One is that it is really quite easy to think that it is only our club that have problems. Quite ironic really in a week when Saracens are facing a 35 points deduction plus five million pound fine, and Harlequins have just lost at home to Worcester, having been in a fairly comfortable lead. League leaders Northampton just lost to bottom of the table Bath.
The second point, just like this young person, is it might need something different to turn this situation around. For example, teaching staff at the school had spent many hours with this student, but it just required a change in interventions to tweak this young person’s outlook, from someone new, to improve this person’s circumstances. Wasps, I fear are at a stage where the excuses are running out and need something to change as well. Last season Wasps difficulties seemed obvious – injuries ruling out a number of key players, new players not settling in, etc. This year, we are four games to the good, and are only really missing two certain starters in Thomas Young and Joe Launchbury. Other clubs are missing many more than that. Performances and results should have been better given the quality of the players available. I would not try to claim otherwise, no one can claim to be pleased or even satisfied with what has happened so far.
This is not a post calling for Dai Young, Ian Costello, Lee Blackett or anyone else’s head. What this is though is a few words suggesting that something needs to change pretty quickly before the season veers into crisis territory. What those changes might look like is down to higher powers than me, but the warning signs are there. We are relatively injury free. We lost very few players to the world cup. We have had an extended pre-season. We have five points from a possible twenty, and have Exeter away as the next league fixture. Harlequins is after (league wise) in the Christmas Cracker. These are all facts. Another fact is that if Wasps lose both of those games, they will be entering the new year in a relegation battle rather than a battle for top six. Just over two years ago, they finished top of the league.
As a suggestion for us fans, I wonder if we could do a little more to help the team. I often take my kids down to meet the players on arrival and was struck by how quiet it was before the game vs London Irish. Could we organise a big welcoming committee before the Quins game? That seems to have disappeared since the players have stopped arriving en mass, and they had spoken before about what a difference it used to make. Just an idea, but sometimes small things like this can make big differences. A lot of our current players will not have experienced a proper Wasps Ricoh welcome. We as supporters have opportunity to change that.
Let us hope things improve, and where we can, try to do our bit to help. We are in for a challenging season.
Thanks for reading.
Thought-provoking and nuanced as usual. From what little I have seen the players still do not seem to be properly attuned to one another to generate accuracy and co-ordinated go-forward. Is it lack of leadership through the side – in the pack, for example. Robson seems to be doing a good job, but does he need more support? Are the coaches overloading the players with complex routines which are taking time to bed in? Do the players fully understand and support what they are being asked to do?
Thanks Jon. Personally, I am never convinced that a 9 is the best position for skipper. Got enough to worry about. Be interested to see how Young does when he returns, captaincy wise. Game plan seems a little muddled.