I have not done one of these for a while. Not properly anyway. Various reasons, not least the lack of rugby to write about from my perspective, but also the difficulty putting into words Wasps going into administration evoked, emotion wise. A few reflections below.
Those who know me well will hopefully testify I am a positive person. Overly negative people drive me up the wall. Life is too short as far as I am concerned and continually worrying about things doesn’t tend to be particularly helpful, in my experience. I think what probably comes with that approach though is a bit of naivety, sometimes a reluctance to face reality. So, from the start of the season, I did my best to ignore the stories emerging of obscene amounts of debt, which were confirmed recently in a BBC article. I did my best to ignore the bile from some CCFC fans who were regularly getting stuck in on social media. I knew better. I was lucky enough to have some correspondence with people at the club during this period and was optimistic everything was going to be okay.
I think the reality of the situation hit home on the 12th October, when Wasps intention to go into administration was confirmed, though that statement didn’t actually cause the crushing realisation this was curtains. At the time that news broke I was coaching my school rugby side against a team in Birmingham, who coincidentally were coached by a couple of Wasps community staff. We chatted before the match about the situation and they were hopeful, like me, all would be fine. The news about heading into administration was released during our match. These two chaps found out at the same time we, as fans did, that it was likely they were likely to be unemployed very soon. The same time.
I barely chatted to my colleagues on the coach journey back, a mixture of seething at how these two lads had been treated and the consequent overdue realisation the end of Wasps, as we knew it, was nigh. When this was officially confirmed less than a week later, I was well into my own grieving process.
When I look back at on it now, what I expect will be Wasps final game at the CBS arena was fairly symbolic of their time in Coventry. Moments of brilliance, such as the Charlie Atkinson try. Four English try scorers, three of those academy graduates, a reflection of the hard work that had been invested in more recent years in developing players for the senior squad. Then defeat in the last minute, bringing back memories of two heart-breaking results to Exeter in Premiership finals, both of which had late drama. A game of what might have been, a period in the club’s history of what might have been….
If you follow rugby, you know that the last seven days have been far more encouraging if you support Wasps. There are reasons to be positive again and for that we should be incredibly thankful for the hard work that the likes of Peter Scrivener and Kenny Logan (plus many others) have put in. I know I am. But before I get too excited, I am reminded of some of the Wasps players who are still looking for work. I am reminded of the support staff, like those two young lads I met on the touchlines, who like other less prominent employees from the club, had their world’s turned upside down in October. I am reminded of the local businesses who are owed money by the club at a period of economic crisis for the country. So, whatever the future brings, what I hope is that we see a sustainable club moving forward that looks after its’ staff, engages with its’ supporters, and treats people well.
This phoenix is rising from the flames. Let us hope it is one we are going to enjoy watching fly.
Have a good Christmas.