It has been a successful campaign for the club, surpassing expectations in the Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup. As I’m sure you became fed up of hearing me say, top six was our target in the league, alongside qualifying from one of the toughest pools in the history of Europe in the Champions Cup.
To have not only qualified, but also to have topped the group and reached the Semi Final, is testament to the commitment of our players and coaches and to the inspiring support of our Wasps’ fans.
I have been fortunate to enjoy many highs in my career as a player and as a coach, but experiencing our Wasps’ fans welcome as we arrived at the Madejski Stadium for our European Semi Final had me holding back the tears. Anyone who sees me in the work place will appreciate I am not an emotional man, but that reception and the ferocious support of our fans throughout the match was up there with the best moments I have experienced in my career.
You were outstanding yet again and I’m not sure anything could have prepared us for the scenes we saw driving up to the stadium, surrounded by our fans cheering us on and waving Wasps’ flags. It was a special moment, one that I and I’m sure our players will never forget. Again it showed how much this club means to us all and how we all have a part to play – coaches, players, fans and our back room team. We couldn’t have asked for any more all season, whether we were ahead or behind, you got behind the team and that means a lot to us all.
We were all disappointed we couldn’t quite make it into the Final that our fans, owners Derek and Dawn Richardson, and every member of staff at the club deserve for their tireless work and support this season.
Saracens and Exeter thoroughly deserved their places in those Finals, but to have reached that point knowing the journey we have all come on, made it more special. Few other clubs have experienced the tumultuous roller coaster Wasps have over the years and it makes you appreciate the good times and the people who follow you all the more. We fully understand since the move, that not all our fans will be able to join us at every match, but we know that doesn’t lessen your passion or commitment to the club and the squad, and it is fantastic to see so many familiar faces from so many years at various grounds around the country.
We know there’s still plenty of work to do if we want to be competing in the Finals we all crave, but it’s worth celebrating some of the highs this season and I hope you have enjoyed being part of Wasps’ resurgence. Beating the three times champions Leinster on home turf in Dublin, a moment when you realised this squad was capable of something special, the 32-6 win over reigning Champions Toulon at home and the way the squad equipped themselves to come within a minute of being the first team to win at Stade Felix Mayol in the European Cup.
In the end, that loss didn’t matter as we still secured the home Quarter Final, where the squad produced a comeback that I suspect might go down in Wasps’ folklore! It meant a lot to us all to be able to give our fans some of those European memories, in a competition we know means so much to our supporters after the successful history this club has enjoyed in years gone by.
Due to the Rugby World Cup and condensed season, with no LV Cup breaks, this season has been relentless both physically and mentally in particular for players, but also for staff.
Seeing our fans make an effort every single week, from the Ricoh to the fantastic following in Exeter, helps to keep you going and gives you that extra little bit of energy to pick you up and go again.
We said goodbye to our Acton training base this week and we thank everyone involved at Wasps FC who have supported us over the years, as our club mates, our friends and our landlords.
Next month, we will arrive for pre-season at Broadstreet Rugby Club, which will be our interim training base in the West Midlands. We are excited about the new chapter, where players and off-field staff will all be based in the Coventry area.
As well as thanking our fans, I would also like to thank our players and staff for the way they adapted to the logistical challenges of being spread across two bases, involving five-hour round trips and extra nights away from home. It is a trademark of this squad and perhaps of the club as a whole, to get on with the task at hand. There are no excuses; if there is a challenge you rise to it.
It has been a squad effort and this group of players has acquitted themselves brilliantly in challenging conditions. While we all want to build on the platform laid this season, with the ultimate goal to compete in Finals for silverware, the squad should be proud of what they have achieved and our fans should be proud of the contribution they have made too. You have set the bar in team welcomes and our players leave nothing on the pitch in appreciation of your support.
We now have a few weeks away from the club. We congratulate our players who have been selected to represent their countries over the summer – they thoroughly deserve international recognition after the performances they’ve produced for Wasps this season. Players will also have a well-earned break for rest and recuperation before we all return fresh and ready for a new campaign.
We look forward to seeing your familiar faces back at the Ricoh Arena and on the road and hope you are as excited as we are about what next season might hold for Wasps.
In the meantime, have a fantastic summer and rest up, as we will need you in full voice again come the start of the new season!
Thank you again from us all.