Five things we learned about Wasps this season

Five things we learned about Wasps this season

Five things we learned about Wasps this season

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WASPS aren't the full package yet, but we got a glimpse of what that will look like last season.

Here, we compare five keys areas and see how Wasps have improved - and where they still need to do a bit of work. 

Conditioning:

Wasps learned from the mistakes of 2012/13, when the wheels came off their campaign in the spring and they ended the season with eight defeats.

Dai Young overhauled the strength and conditioning team after that and the results were immediate and obvious as Wasps recovered from a big dip in February to finish the season strongly.

Joe Simpson said he felt full of running ahead of their final game and collectively the team saved their best game till last, when there was no hint of fatigue in a 20-6 win over Stade Francais.

Forwards:

A huge improvement on last season, which was also an improvement on the season before.

Clearly having a former Lions prop at the helm has turned a spotlight on the set piece and their scrum has just about shaken off it’s lightweight reputation now.

Signing an entirely new front row in Jake Cooper-Woolley, Carlo Festucia and Matt Mullan has transformed the pack, while Nathan Hughes, who could yet turn out to be the best of Young’s signings, ensured the dynamism despite the loss of Bily Vunipola.

Mentality:

Still both a strength and a liability. Wasps proved they have a hard edge by going to France four times during the year and winning on every occasion – and their victory in Paris could turn out to be the making of the team.

However, they are still vulnerable to switch-off moments in games – 10-15 minute spells when they can concede just as many points.

They also still need to learn the art of winning the tight ones. Although they beat Stade by one, Worcester and Gloucester by two and Exeter by three, they lost more marginal matches than they won with seven Premiership defeats coming by less than five points.

Off-field:

Possibly the area of the club that has been most revitalised. New owner Derek Richardson prefers to stay out of the limelight, but his influence is already being keenly felt.

The list of players coming to Wasps this summer as well as those that have signed contract extensions suggests the financial backing is there again.

The fact that they flew to France for an Amlin Challenge Cup match – something they wouldn’t have even considered before Richardson took over – is another telling fact.

Moreover, their Stinger at Twickenham was a triumph for the marketing men and proves they have the clout to stage big events again.

The attack:

Necessity is the mother of invention and Wasps had to find new ways to hurt teams this season.

With Christian Wade and Tom Varndell available last year, they simply had to throw the ball wide and watch their wingers do the rest. The pair got 26 Premiership tries between them last season but injury meant they only played together once this year, on the opening day.

Josh Bassett, James Short, Jonah Holmes, Tom Howe and Will Helu all took turns out wide, but they managed just five Premiership tries between them.

Instead, Wasps developed other threats such as the driving line-out, and despite losing a glut of tries from out wide they still improved their Premiership try tally this year – just.

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