- "Wasps (rugby)" redirects here. This article is about the rugby union team. For the Wasps rugby league team see York City Knights. For the amateur rugby union side see Wasps FC
|Full name||Wasps Rugby Union Football Club|
(as "Wasps FC") 
|Ground(s)||Ricoh Arena (Capacity: 32,609 )|
|Chairman||Derek Richardson (Owner) Nick Eastwood (deputy)|
|Captain(s)||James Haskell Matt Mullan|
Wasps is an English professional rugby union team. The men's first team, which forms Wasps, was derived from Wasps Football Club who were formed in 1867 at the now defunct Eton and Middlesex Tavern in North London, at the turn of professionalism in 1995. Wasps play at the Ricoh Arena, which is located in Coventry.
Wasps has won at least one of each of the major European competitions or knock-out tournaments in the past decade. The team compete in the English Premiership, the Anglo-Welsh Cup and, depending on their results in the prior season, the European Rugby Champions Cup or European Rugby Challenge Cup (they are competing in the Champions Cup in the current 2015–16 season).
- 1 History
- 2 Home ground
- 3 Current squad
- 4 Honours
- 5 Head Coach/Director of Rugby
- 6 Ownership
- 7 Kit
- 8 Notable former players
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Wasps FC: 1866–1995
Hampstead Football Club was founded in 1866. A split in the membership resulted in the formation of two different clubs: Harlequin F.C. and Wasps. Wasps Football Club was itself formed in 1867 at the now defunct Eton and Middlesex Tavern in North London; names of insects, birds and other animals were considered fashionable in the Victorian period. In December 1870, Edwin Ash, Secretary of Richmond Football Club published a letter in the papers which said, "Those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play."
As a reasonably well-established club, the Wasps were eligible to be founder members of the Rugby Football Union (RFU). On 26 January 1871 the meeting was scheduled to take place. However a mix-up led to them sending their representative to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day. Another version of the story was that he went to a pub of the same name and after consuming a number of drinks was too drunk to make it to the correct address after he realised his mistake. Wasps were, therefore, not present at the inauguration ceremony and forfeited their right to be called foundation members.
Wasps' first home was in Finchley Road, North London. Later, grounds were rented in various parts of London until in 1923 the Wasps found a permanent home at Sudbury, Middlesex, eventually buying the ground outright. The side had somewhat of a renaissance during the 1930s; in the earlier part of the decade they were seen as one of the better English clubs, going unbeaten in the 1930/31 English season. The 1930s also saw the emergence of Neville Compton, who captained the side between 1939 and 1947 and went on to become fixture secretary in 1959 and eventually became the club president in the early 1970s before retiring in 1988.
Wasps went on to host Welsh internationals Vivian Jenkins and Harry Bowcott, in addition to this national representation, numerous Wasps came to play for the England national side, such as Ted Woodward, Bob Stirling, Richard Sharp and Don Rutherford. In 1967, the Wasps club celebrated their centenary. Celebrations took the form of two matches that were held at the Rugby school grounds, where William Webb Ellis is thought to have originated the rugby union game. One match was played against the Barbarian F.C., the other, against another London rugby union club, the Harlequins.
The 1980s saw what was, at that point, an all-time high representation of Wasps players in the England national side. In 1986, Wasps Football Club made their first appearance at the final of the John Player Cup knock-out competition, which originated in 1972. Wasps were defeated by Bath in a close game, where Bath emerged as winners, 25 points to 17. The following year Wasps continued their success in the knock-out competition and they again met Bath in the final. They were however again defeated by Bath in a close game, Bath winning 19 points to 12. Wasp Rob Andrew captained England against Romania in 1989. In 1990, Andrew captained Wasps to their first Courage League title, as they narrowly pipped Orrell R.U.F.C. to be English champions.
In 1995 Wasps lost 16–36 to Bath in the final of the Pilkington Cup. It was their first appearance in the final since 1987 and 1986, when their opponents — and the eventual winners — on both occasions were also Bath.
After winning the title, Wasps regularly finished in the top three of the Courage league title, although they were never quite good enough to overcome Bath, the pre-eminent club of the time. Then in 1995/96, with many pundits predicting Wasps could make a run for the title, Rob Andrew took up a lucrative deal to become Player Manager of Newcastle Falcons. He recruited several other leading Wasps, including, most notably, Club Captain Dean Ryan. For a few weeks Wasps looked like becoming the first casualty of the professional era as the backbone of their team had left. But under newly appointed captain Lawrence Dallaglio, the club steadied the ship, and managed to finish fourth, and secure a place in the following season's Heineken Cup, which English teams were entering for the first time.
Wasps RFC: 1996–99
The following season, 1996/97, Wasps won their second league championship, and became the first English Champions of the professional era. It was an equally momentous season off the field. The club split into two parts, with the professional side becoming part of Loftus Road Holdings PLC, who also owned Queens Park Rangers F.C.. One element of the deal saw Wasps move from their traditional Sudbury home to share QPR's Loftus Road stadium.
In 1998, the now-professional Wasps again reached the final of what was now the Tetley's Bitter Cup, but lost 18–48 to a star-studded Saracens side. The following year, Wasps again reached the final, in which they defeated Newcastle Falcons 29–19, to claim their first title in the competition. In 2000, Wasps reached the final for the third consecutive year, successfully defending their title in a 31–23 victory over Northampton Saints.
London Wasps: 1999–2014
In the summer of 1999, the professional team — which had been operating as Wasps RFC (professional) since the 1996/97 season — was renamed as London Wasps, to differentiate it from Wasps FC, the amateur side of the club. At the same they adopted a new logo, which was selected as being in keeping with the club's history.
In 2001 ex-Wigan rugby league star Shaun Edwards joined as a coach. He has largely been credited with creating Wasps' famous Blitz Defence that stops teams and is the basis for Wasps' own scoring chances. London Wasps agreed to move out of Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road stadium to allow Fulham F.C. to rent for 2 seasons between 2002 and 2004, while their ground, Craven Cottage, was redeveloped. They became tenants to Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park at the end of the 2001/02 season. The success of Wasps at their new ground meant they did not return to Loftus Road after Fulham left.
In the 2002/03 European Challenge Cup, Wasps made their way to the final, where they met Bath. Though Bath beat them in numerous finals in the 1990s, the Wasps emerged as champions, beating Bath 48 to 30 at Madejski Stadium. Wasps end of season run to glory also included timely wins that saw them defeat the Northampton Saints, in the Premiership semi final, after finishing 2nd in the league table. This saw them face Gloucester in the final at Twickenham. Wasps superior fitness saw them waltz past the cherry and whites and win their first English title since 1997, by 39 points to 3.
Wasps finished top of their pool in the 2003–04 Heineken Cup, where they went on to defeat Gloucester at the quarter-finals and won a final berth after beating Munster 37 points to 32 in the semi-finals. They met Toulouse in the final at Twickenham, where they became champions, defeating the French side, 27 points to 20 winning their first Heineken Cup. Wasps followed up the win the following week, again at Twickenham, by beating Bath to retain the title of England's champion side, and complete a double.
In December 2004 the RFU revealed that the team was to be disqualified from the Powergen Cup for fielding an ineligible player, hooker Jonny Barrett, in a sixth-round game versus Bristol. Wasps went through the season well, after the cup glitch, and retained the English title for a second time, by beating Leicester Tigers in the final at Twickenham. Edwards, however, was not a totally happy man as Wasps conceded their first try of the three Premiership finals in the dying minutes. Warren Gatland signed off at Wasps with a rare smile to continue his coaching with Waikato in New Zealand.
Ian McGeechan became the new Director of Rugby at Wasps from the 2005/06 season, taking over from Gatland. Wasps won the Powergen Anglo-Welsh Cup in the 2005/06 season, beating Llanelli Scarlets in the final at Twickenham. Before the 2006/07 season began, Wasps won the Middlesex 7's in Twickenham, beating Leicester Tigers in the final.
In the 2007 Six Nations Championship, England vs. Wales game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wasps supplied the back row of the scrum, James Haskell, Joe Worsley and Tom Rees all made an appearance. This was the first time that any club supplied the entire back row. Unfortunately for England, Wales won the encounter 27 to 18.
In the Heineken Cup of 2007, Wasps qualified by topping their group for a home quarter final. They were drawn against Leinster on 31 March. There was a full house at Adams Park, and three players in total were sent to the Sin Bin, Lawrence Dallaglio in the last moments of the first half, Dominic Waldouck of London Wasps and Malcolm O'Kelly of Leinster later spent time there as well. The final score was 35–13 to wasps. In the Semi Final on Sunday April 22 at Coventry Citys Ricoh Arena, Wasps beat Northampton 30–13 and in doing so, gained a place in the Heineken Cup Final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham.
Leicester Tigers were the favourites, as they had already won the Anglo-Welsh cup and the Guinness Premiership, the latter just the week before. Wasps went ahead early, and while Leicester kept in the match, Wasps won 25–9, thanks to penalties by Alex King and tries by Raphael Ibanez and Eoin Reddan to become 2007 champions.
During the 2007/08 season, Wasps went from 10th in the league during October, to beat Leicester Tigers in the Guinness Premiership Final. This sealed a dream send-off for the retiring Lawrence Dallaglio at Twickenham. Wasps won 26–16 thanks to penalties by Mark van Gisbergen and tries by Josh Lewsey and Tom Rees to become the English 2008 champions. Wasps have now won six league titles in all, equal with Bath and just one behind Leicester.
The 2008/9 season was to see Wasps come unstuck. With their captain having retired, many of the players failed to play to their full potential. Wasps would eventually finish in seventh place, having also failed to reach the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup and EDF Anglo Welsh Cup. On 12 May 2009 it was announced in the evening standard that Ian McGeechan had been forced to step down and will now take a consultancy role both at London Wasps and London Scottish. This was confirmed by the BBC on 14 May. Tony Hanks, a former coach at the club, was announced as the new Director of Rugby soon after. He had more recently been coaching at Waikato and also been a stand in for McGeechan for the latter part of the 2008/09 season, while he was primarily committed to British and Irish Lions duty. McGeechan had technically been a Lions employee for the whole season and through agreement with Wasps was loaned back to the club.
The 2009/2010 season started off with an exodus of key players including James Haskell and Tom Palmer who moved to Stade Français, Riki Flutey who also crossed the channel to join Brive and Eoin Reddan who left to join Leinster in Ireland.
After beating Gloucester 42–26 in the Quarter final of the Amlin Cup scoring 5 tries (including a hat-trick from winger Tom Varndell), Wasps lost 15–18 at home to Cardiff Blues in the Semi final with Dave Walder kicking all of Wasps points with 5 penalties. Cardiff subsequently beat French Top 14 side Toulon in the final of the competition at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.
Shaun Edwards left the club in November 2011.
Wasps had a poor 2011/12 season, finishing in their lowest position for many seasons in 11th place, narrowly avoiding relegation from the Premiership. The season was notable for a good start where Wasps beat with a 15-20 reigning champions Saracens at Twickenham in the opening match and then runners-up Leicester in the second match with a 35-29. Things went downhill from there on as the worst injury toll known to professional rugby union hit the squad with a combined total of 16 serious and long term injuries and retirements.
Dai Young recruited well through the summer bringing in players such as Andrea Massi (2012 6 Nations Player Of The Tournament) and Stephen Jones. He also welcomed back former Wasps Tom Palmer and James Haskell.
Relocation to Coventry: 2014–present
On 30 June 2014, the club announced that the "London" prefix of the name had been dropped, returning to Wasps for the first time since the re-branding in 1999.
In September 2014, Simon Gilbert, of the Coventry Telegraph reported the side were in talks to permanently relocate to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, from their home at Adams Park, in High Wycombe. In October 2014 Wasps announced that from December 2014 they would play their home games at the Ricoh Arena. On 14 November 2014 Wasps confirmed the purchase of the final 50% of shares in the stadium from the Higgs Charity to become outright owners of the facility.
Summary of league positions
After the use of Merit tables for the prior three seasons, in 1987 the RFU implemented a National League system. Below is a list summarizing Wasps' final league positions:
As Wasps FC
- 1987–88: Courage National Division 1 – 2nd
- 1988–89: Courage National Division 1 – 3rd
- 1989–90: Courage National Division 1 – 1st (Champions)
- 1990–91: Courage National Division 1 – 2nd
- 1991–92: Courage National Division 1 – 7th
- 1992–93: Courage National Division 1 – 2nd
- 1993–94: Courage National Division 1 – 3rd
- 1994–95: Courage National Division 1 – 3rd
- 1995–96: Courage National Division 1 – 4th
As Wasps RFC
- 1996–97: Courage National Division 1 – 1st (Champions)
- 1997–98: Allied Dunbar Premiership – 9th
- 1998–99: Allied Dunbar Premiership– 5th
As London Wasps
- 1999-00: Allied Dunbar Premiership – 7th
- 2000–01: Zurich Premiership – 2nd
- 2001–02: Zurich Premiership – 7th
- 2002–03: Zurich Premiership – 2nd (Champions)
- 2003–04: Zurich Premiership – 2nd (Champions)
- 2004–05: Zurich Premiership– 2nd (Champions)
- 2005–06: Guinness Premiership – 4th
- 2006–07: Guinness Premiership – 5th
- 2007–08: Guinness Premiership – 2nd (Champions)
- 2008–09: Guinness Premiership – 7th
- 2009–10: Guinness Premiership – 5th
- 2010–11: Aviva Premiership – 9th
- 2011–12: Aviva Premiership – 11th
- 2012–13: Aviva Premiership – 8th
- 2013–14: Aviva Premiership – 7th
As Wasps RFC
- 2014-15: Aviva Premiership – 6th
Wasps' first home was in Finchley Road, North London although subsequent years saw grounds being rented in various parts of London. In 1923 the club moved to a permanent home at Sudbury, Middlesex, eventually buying the ground outright.
In 1996 Wasps played their home games at Queens Park Rangers' home ground, Loftus Road, in West London. The ground at Sudbury was developed for housing, though the club house still stands - currently being used as a Hindu Community Centre.
Wasps made another move in 2002, playing their home games at Wycombe Wanderers' ground, Adams Park, in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The attendance figure went up by 31.8% the next season. From 2004 Wasps played their season opener in the London Double Header at Twickenham. In 2006 this drew a crowd of 51,950, breaking the record set in 2004.
For the 2007–08 season Wasps began their defence of the Heineken Cup in Coventry, playing their "home" tie against Munster at Coventry City's Ricoh Arena. While commercially the move was seen as a success, with Wasps winning the game 24–23 in front of a crowd of 21,506, the move attracted criticism from some of the club's supporters, citing the long distance from London. The club argued that they had little choice but to relocate the match as their landlords, Wycombe Wanderers, had a home FA Cup tie the same day.
In 2007 Wasps, Wycombe Wanderers and Wycombe District Council entered a joint venture that would fund a new stadium in the High Wycombe area. The favoured site for the new stadium was at Wycombe Air Park, a 208-acre (0.84 km2) site owned by Wycombe District Council and close to the M40 motorway. The planned stadium was of 16–17,000 capacity, and would have been the first new football ground in England with terraced section since the Taylor Report. The development would also have included retail, hotel, conference and other facilities. Wasps and Wanderers funding would primarily be from Steve Hayes, who had become a 25% share holder through a £250,000 investment in Wycombe Wanderers in June 2004, when the football club became a plc company; and later became managing director. Hayes bought an 11.6% stake in London Wasps Holdings Ltd in August 2007, and became chairman of Lawrence Dallaglio's benefit committee. In December 2008, Hayes bought Wright's controlling interest and John O'Connell's share holding in Wasps to take complete control. After the stadium plans at Booker Airfield were turned down, Steve Hayes put the club up for sale, with Derek Richardson becoming principal shareholder in April 2013 
On 7 October 2014, Wasps purchased 50% in Arena Coventry Ltd (the operating company of the Ricoh Arena), Coventry, with the intention of relocating to the Midlands. After gaining a 100% stake in the company on 14 November 2014, Wasps played their 1st game in Coventry on 21 December 2014; a 48-16 win vs London Irish.
2015-16 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
- English Champions titles: 6
- 1989/90*, 1996/97**, 2002/03^, 2003/04^, 2004/05^, 2007/08^
- Runners-up 3
- 1987/88*, 1990/91*, 1992/93*
- Anglo-Welsh Cup titles: 3
- 1998/99**, 1999/2000^, 2005/06^
- Runners-up 4
- 1985/86*, 1986/87*, 1994/95*, 1997/98**
- Heineken Cup titles: 2
- 2003/04^, 2006/07^
- European Challenge Cup titles: 1
- Middlesex 7s Tournament titles: 5
- 1948*, 1952*, 1985*, 1993*, 2006^
- Runners-up: 4
- 1933*, 1951*, 1996*, 2005^
- Guinness A League titles: 2
- 2006/07^, 2007/08^
- Runners-up: 2
- 2004/05^, 2008/09^
- (* As Wasps FC)
- (** As Wasps RFC)
- (^ As London Wasps)
Head Coach/Director of Rugby
|Rob Smith||1981–96 (Head Coach)||Rob Smith was London Wasps academy director until 2013.|
|Nigel Melville||1996–2002||Current president of USA Rugby, the governing body for the sport in the United States.|
|Warren Gatland||2002–05||Current Wales head coach.|
|Leon Holden||2011||Interim Director of Rugby until end of 2010–11 season.|
Canmango Limited and David Thorne took over ownership of the club on 14 September 2012 after protracted financial issues. The club had been put up for sale in October 2011 by Steve Hayes after he was unable to progress with a new stadium and sport and retail development on the Booker Airfield.
On 5 May 2015, The Wasps announced a new multi-year deal with American apparel manufacturer Under Armour to become 'technical wear partner'. The contract, commencing 2015-16 season, would see Wasps become the first British domestic team to use the company's apparel.
Previous manufacturers include Cantebury and Kukri. The first away kit produced by Kukri in 2012 (a hooped blue away shirt) was a change from the white or black and gold hoops traditionally used as a tie in with the clubs chosen charity MIND in a combined effort to help raise the awareness of mental health issues in sport.
Notable former players
Roger Utley England
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- Official site
- Official Picture Site
- Waspies fansite
- Wasps on Rugby15
- Wasps Training ground (Twyford Avenue) at Google Maps
- PITCH working with Wasps
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