Thursday, 26 March 2009

London Wasps: a Crib Sheet for Beginners

On Sunday 5th April my firm is taking a few clients to Adams Park for a bit of corporate hospitality whilst taking in the Wasps v Newcastle Falcons Premiership clash. A female colleague of mine with a limited knowledge of rugby asked if I'd be kind enough to brief her on Wasps, and so this is what I came up with...

The Club:

The club is called London Wasps, despite playing their home matches in High Wycombe. Go figure.

London Wasps are the current Guinness Premiership champions (although are unlikely to be so for much longer).

London Wasps also won the Heineken Cup (the top competition in Europe – the equivalent of football’s Champions League) in 2004 and 2007.

London Wasps’ primary sponsor is currently Magners.

(You may have noticed a pattern emerging. For some reason booze brands like to be associated with rugby although I can’t for the life of me understand why).

Currently London Wasps are having a season that can only be described as rubbish, having been knocked out of the Heineken Cup at the group stage and lying 9th in the Guinness Premiership. Wasps need to finish in the top 6 to qualify for the Heineken Cup next season.


Head Coach: Ian McGeechan
The hugely experienced "Geech" is also the current Head Coach for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa this summer.

Assistant Coach: Shaun Edwards OBE
A former Wigan and great Britain Rugby League legend, Edwards is also the Wales Defensive Guru and will be Defence Coach for the Lions tour of South Africa.

Far be it for me to suggest that perhaps the coaches ought to have been concentrating a little more on their jobs at Wasps this season.

Notable Players:

Danny Cipriani
12 months ago he was being lauded as the next big thing in English rugby after single-handedly beating the Irish at Twickenham. Then a horrendous ankle injury ruled him out of the game for 4 months and he’s struggled for form ever since. Perhaps more famous now for his celebrity girlfriend Kelly Brooke and for having allegedly slept with a girl called Larissa who turned out to be a bloke called Darren.

Josh Lewsey MBE
Former England World Cup Winner who retired from international rugby after England stopped picking him. A former officer with the Royal Artillery, he achieved tabloid fame for knocking out Danny Cipriani with a left hook in a training ground bust-up earlier this season. The rumour that the rest of the squad were lining up behind him to take their turn remains unsubstantiated.

James Haskell
Big backrow forward who is also part of the current England squad and clearly loves himself. Wears white boots and is therefore not to be trusted. He is leaving Wasps at the end of the season to join Stade Français in Paris where they are far more tolerant of coloured footwear and where he will earn shedloads of euros.

Riki Flutey
A New Zealand Maori who is arguably (and somewhat confusingly) currently England’s best player. Flutey qualified to play for England by living here for 3 years, having left New Zealand originally to join London Irish, and is so committed to the English way of life that he is heading down to the south of France next season to take up a lucrative contract
with Brive.

Phil Vickery MBE
Another veteran of the England 2003 World Cup team, Cornishman Vickery is still playing for Wasps and England despite having had three major spinal operations that make him a miracle of modern science. Nicknamed the “Raging Bull”, Vickery is also a fully qualified cattle inseminator.

Other international players in the Wasps squad:

Paul Sackey (England) – recently dropped by England
Tom Rees (England) – probable FEC (Future England Captain)
Tom Palmer (England) – another one leaving for France
Simon Shaw – (England) - aged 76 and still going strong
Joe Worsley (England)
Tim Payne (England)
Tom Voyce (England)
Dave Walder (England)
Eoin Reddan (Ireland)
Jeremy Staunton (Ireland)
Raphael Ibanez – (France) – recently
retired after too many bangs on the head
Serge Betsen – (France)
Mark Robinson (New Zealand)
Dan Leo (Samoa)

All of which begs the question: What has gone wrong this season?

Notable Former Player:

Lawrence Bruno Nero Dallaglio OBE
“Beautiful British name” as the Pub Landlord might say.
Wasps’ most famous player, Dallaglio is also an England legend having been a key part of the England 2003 World Cup triumph. He retired last year after having captained Wasps to Premiership success in 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008 and to Heineken Cup success in 2004 and 2007. LNBD was appointed captain of England as long ago as 1997 but had to relinquish the position in 1999 after he allegedly bragged to an undercover News of the World reporter that he had taken and dealt in cocaine and ecstasy while a teenager. Silly boy. He is now an Executive Board member at London Wasps.

Other Notable Facts:

Wasps FC was formed in 1867 and was invited to join the newly established Rugby Football Union on 26th January 1871. Unfortunately, however, the team turned up at the wrong pub on the wrong day at the wrong time and so forfeited their right to be called Founder Members of the Union.

London Wasps’ training and administrative centre is based at the less than glamorous former British Gas sportsground in Acton, West London.

Assistant Coach Sean Edwards has a son with former M People singer Heather Small.

Wasps are 100% owned by founder of and Managing Director of Wycombe Wanderers, Steve Hayes, who recently bought out the former investors including Chris Wright, former founder of Chrysalis Records. Steve Hayes lives about 5 minutes walk from my house and drives a rather swanky Bugatti Veyron. He is neither envious of my house nor of my R-reg VW Polo.


Nursedude said...

Flanker, I have to ask if in the UK, do they have 'luxury boxes', complete with TV monitors and catered food and booze for the "CORPORATE FAN" like in the US, or does your firm have a group of seats in the stands?

Total Flanker said...

Nursedude - I believe we have such facilities at the likes of Twickenham, Millennium Stadium etc (never been invited!) but I doubt it at Adams Park. Anyway, our corporate hospitality will consist of lunch and a few beers beforehand and then we'll have to mix with the common fans in the stands! ;)

Nursedude said...

Sounds like fun. As I was home sick today, I watched the recorded match between Saracens-Wasps. Cipriani had a decent match, and It looked like Wasps would do a smash and grab on the road, but Saracens was able to pull it out in the end.

Looked like Wasps is playing a LOT of youngsters in the front row.

James Mortimer said...

Outstanding summary TF.

You should be sending that to Wasps RFC, they pay good pound those English clubs.