One thing guaranteed with following Wasps is that it is never dull. Ever. There is always plenty to write about, whether it is events on the pitch, or events off it. Strolling to the stadium with my better half on Friday, we did not know what to expect, both on and off that pitch.
It was a significant evening for many reasons. Wasps’ first league game at home at the Ricoh on a Friday night. Wasps’ first match against Saracens following their well-documented fine and points deduction. Most significantly, it was Wasps’ first game at The Ricoh without Dai Young at the helm.
Prior to the game, I had put a few feelers out on social media with regards to making some type of gesture, and thanks to helpful support by both the Club and local press, this gained some momentum, with a minute’s applause agreed around the nine-minute mark to recognise Dai Young’s service to the Club. I felt a little nervous before the match about whether it would happen, and if it would come at a time when Saracens were bearing down on the Wasps tryline! I was more concerned about the result though, with the visitors very impressive last time out, running out comfortable winners against a strong Sale Sharks outfit.
In the end, the match and the match day experience, was as close to perfect as you could get. Wasps ran in eight tries, all of which were impressive in different ways. I particularly enjoyed Brad Shields’ second try, where he seemed to take out the frustrations he must have felt (by the niggling injuries he has suffered since arriving at Wasps) on their defending winger! All of the supporters joined in with the clapping, and I felt slightly emotional when the words ‘Thank you Dai’ appeared on the big
screen during the applause. Off the pitch the mood seemed genuinely good. Saracens traditionally don’t have a huge away following, so a crowd touching 12,000 on a cold Friday evening is an excellent outcome, and I hope will have helped encourage new supporters to the Club. The rugby on display will certainly encourage repeat visitors!
Strolling back to our car, my wife and I debated if it was the best performance we had seen at Ricoh Arena. It was certainly up there given the circumstances – the six-day turnaround following the Leicester game, and the late withdrawals to two players in Kieran Brookes and Thomas Young. Regardless, what could not be debated was that we had just witnessed the best performance of the season.
As experiments go, I think the Friday night one is one to repeat. It allows players at local clubs an opportunity to take in some top-quality rugby, which is often problematic for weekend fixtures, and with results like that, it is a perfect way to start any weekend!
Thank you Wasps for a great evening, and let’s hope that at the end of the season, we are talking about other performances that could be compared to this one.
Thanks for reading.