After his side’s unbeaten start to the season was ended at the home of the reigning Aviva Premiership and European champions, Dai Young was frank in his assessment of the game.
“I think that the best team won, sometimes you have to be honest and put your hand up and accept that. Today they were the better team, we had chances and didn’t take them while they had chances and took theirs. We’ve lost to the reigning Premiership and European champions so I’m not going to start tipping coffee cups in the dressing room, but we have to learn from this and that’s the crucial thing, keep pushing ourselves to get better and keep closing the gap.
“We probably lost the battle of the gainline, both with and without the ball. What happened today was no surprise to us, we knew what was coming and we didn’t get the penetration with our ball carriers that we needed while they did.
“The disappointing thing was that, when we did get something and got ourselves back in the game, we then made mistakes, which allowed them to keep the scoreboard ticking over. We weren’t allowed to play, you have to give them a lot of credit for that, they really strangled us and didn’t let us play the way we wanted to.
“We’ve had a really good start to the campaign and I know I’ve kept banging the drum after we’ve won games about having lots to improve on and having a team that’s still developing but today was another example of that. We’ve come to the home of the double champions and they’ve had a little bit too much for us. It’s not all doom and gloom, it’s the first game that we’ve lost and if you’re going to lose to anyone it would probably be to the double champions. We’re disappointed, because we didn’t fire enough shots, but it’s more of a case of how good they were defensively, forcing us into mistakes that we haven’t been forced to make all year.
“We knew what was coming; we just have to be a little smarter about how we play the game. I thought we were rattled early on and started to force things, not keeping the confidence in our systems. In our other games this season we’ve scored a lot of points very early and when that didn’t happen today we maybe didn’t show as much confidence in our policies and structures as we should have.
“The crucial thing now is that we learn from this and get better, Teams are not going to let us have our own way, they’re not going to let us play the rugby we want to and we have to work on finding another way. For large parts of the game today it was a five-point ballgame but they’re a champion team and every time we got close they came up with something.”
Wasps now turn their attentions to the European Champions Cup as they host Zebre at the Ricoh Arena next weekend and Young said his side have to show resilience and bounce back ahead of that game.
“Next week is going to be a big one for us. We need a really big week of training, let’s learn from today and come out firing next week, because that’s the sign of a good team. Saracens have shown that already this season, they lost and bounced back well the week after so that’s what we have to do if we want to be there at the end of the season. We’re going to have bumps in the road, we’ve had one today, but we have to dust ourselves off and get back on the horse.
“We had a few knocks this afternoon that will have to be looked at. Kearnan Myall had a bang on the head so he’ll have to go through all the normal protocol, Dan Robson went over on his ankle and Simon McIntyre went over on his ankle too. We’ll have a few guys we need to patch up but that’s the nature of the sport.”
Young had particular praise for Tom Cruse who, in a late change for Tommy Taylor, started at hooker for his Aviva Premiership debut.
“I thought Tom Cruse came into the side and did really well today. Tommy Taylor felt ill about an hour before the game and it meant that he wasn’t in a position to play come kick off and I thought Tom did really well given the opportunity and he was a real positive in today’s game.”
Young was also asked about the prognosis for Sam Jones, who returned to the club from England camp last week with a broken leg, and the Wasps Director of Rugby didn’t have good news on his injury.
“Unfortunately, as well as breaking his leg he’s had a significant ankle injury, which means he’s going to be out for around five months, which is obviously a disaster. The biggest disappointment, without a shadow of a doubt, is for Sam. He’s worked his socks off to get into contention for England and we’re all frustrated for Sam missing out.”
Pressed on recent media attention around the nature of the England camp, Young had a pretty clear message.
“I don’t think it’s my place to vent my frustration or disappointment about anything that went on through the media, I don’t think that’s the right way to do it. The important thing is that we look at it, we review it and we learn from it. England and the clubs can’t go head-to-head on this; we have to work together. England is not more important than the clubs and the clubs aren’t more important than England, we have to work together. We all want a strong national team and we all want strong Premiership teams and we have to work together for that. Up to this point I’ve only seen a willingness to work together, I’ve not seen anything to suggest that is not what all the parties involved want, and I don’t think for one minute that won’t happen.”