Bell: This is where we want to be

Dai Young 'excited' by European draw

Dai Young 'excited' by European draw

First published in Sport by

WASPS know exactly how high the mountain is after being handed their own three peaks challenge this week with the draw for next seasons inaugural Champions Cup.

The black and golds qualified for the new European club competition as bottom seeds by virtue of their play-off win over Stade Francais last month.

But they’ll have to overcome that tag and a recent history of knocking about in the shadows of greater objects if they hope to make the play-offs.

Dai Young’s men have been grouped with Irish thoroughbreds Leinster, Top 14 runners up Castres and fierce domestic rivals Harlequins in Pool Two.

Only the pool winners are guaranteed a place in the last eight, with three best second-placed teams joining them.

Young said: “We always knew it would be a tough pool after qualifying as bottom seed, but my initial reaction is one of excitement.

“We know it will be a massive challenge for us as a squad and rugby department, but it's the kind of challenge we are all really looking forward to.

“This is where we, the club and our supporters want to be, playing in the top competition against the best teams in Europe.”

“Leinster speak for themselves in terms of quality. They have been one of the best teams in Europe over the last five or six years, while Castres are the second best team in France, with a big budget.

“We also know that our near neighbours Harlequins are a quality outfit, so it will be a challenge.

“But if you want to improve and get better you have to challenge yourself against the best.

“I am excited for the players, the coaches and Wasps supporters.

“Our performances against Stade Français showed what we are capable of on our day, even against the bigger squads in Europe, and those performances will give us plenty of self-belief going into the new season.”

Wasps will be considerably strengthened by the time the group games come around in the autumn, with new signings reaching double figures this summer.

Whether it’s enough to make up the ground on Europe’s elite clubs remains to be seen though.

Captain Chris Bell said: “It will be a big step up from the Challenge Cup, but it's an opportunity we've worked hard for and we will try to grab it with both hands.

“Without a doubt this is where we all want to be and we're really happy that our supporters will be able to watch Wasps back in the top tier of Europe after showing us fantastic support over the last few years.

“I was watching the draw at Twyford Avenue with the backroom team and it was really exciting waiting for our name to be drawn.

“There are 20 incredibly strong teams, so we knew it would be a tough pool whichever teams we were drawn against, but it's a hugely exciting challenge.

“Leinster are very strong, they won the Pro 12 and have a great European heritage, while Castres have really been pulling up trees in the French league and just got pipped in the Top 14 Final.

“We obviously know Quins very well and have a lot of respect for them. That will be a very short away trip.”

Full draw:

Pool 1: Saracens, Munster, Clermont Auvergne, Sale Sharks.

Pool 2: Leinster, Castres, Harlequins, London Wasps.

Pool 3: Toulon, Leicester Tigers, Ulster, Scarlets.

Pool 4: Glasgow Warriors, Montpellier, Bath, Toulouse.

Pool 5: Northampton Saints, Racing Metro, Ospreys, Benetton Treviso

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