Wasps rekindle rivalry with Tigers

Marco Wentzel

Marco Wentzel

First published in Sport by

BATTEN down the hatches, close the curtains and hide under the table – Leicester Tigers are marching on Wycombe with war in their hearts.

It was ever thus.

Wasps versus Leicester has always been more than game of rugby. It’s a clash of cultures, the closest thing to tribe against tribe that English rugby has to offer and Sunday will be no different.

A day of rest? Not for a minute.

Wasps lock Marco Wentzel is uniquely placed to offer an insight. In recent years he has looked out across the divide from both dressing rooms and the memories are still raw.

He said: “Within a week of joining Leicester I knew, ok, Wasps are the team we want to beat.

“It’s a similar thing here. Over the years it’s always been Wasps and Leicester and people know that it’s something different because of the history. It’s a massive thing. I was in the Leicester Tigers dressing room in 2007 when we lost to Wasps at home. I still remember it. It was intense.”

Two years at Leeds served as a buffer between his time at Leicester and Wasps, but Wentzel’s past has followed him and sitting in the Wasps club house, such that it is, his eyes take in the surroundings.

He said: “There is still a photo on the wall up there of the 2007 Final that I played in and lost against Wasps. When it comes to Wasps and Leicester, everything is equal. Anyone can win the game on any given day.

“For me, I know all the players at Leicester and a lot of the guys are still very good mates of mine so it’s a game I want to win. You always want to win against your old teams.”

Despite their fall from grace, Wasps have won the last two meetings at Adams Park. Both have been monumental games, with the black and golds winning 35-29 last season and 37-30 the year before.

Wentzel said: “The weather is going to play a massive part. We’re both very technical sides and we both want to play in the right areas.

“But we’ve got some amazing players in our back three so who knows.

“Everyone goes in with different game plans and a 9-6 game becomes a 52-51 game. As long as we win it by one point I’m happy.

“And we’ve got a great record at home this season.

“Kingsholm and Welford Road are daunting places because they’ve got that record.

“It’s up to us to create that here. Adams Park isn’t the nicest the place to come to, in the middle of an industrial estate.

“The more wins we get here the more daunting it will be and if we win this game it will send a clear message.”

“It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical, but I’m excited about it.”

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