THE ULTIMATE test in club rugby lies ahead for Wasps who will face European Champions Toulon after making it through to the quarter-finals of Europe’s top club competition.
The men in back and gold will head to the South of France in the European Rugby Champions Cup after finishing as one of three best placed runners-up following Saturday’s 20-20 draw with Leinster.
Despite being 20-6 down at the break, Wasps were spurred on by another strong home support at the Arena and second half tries from Matt Mullan and Nathan Hughes earned them a place in the final eight.
“We are all over the moon to have reached the knock out stages and I am really proud of the players who made it happen through their second half fight-back against Leinster,” said Wasps director of rugby, Dai Young.
“We had a mountain to climb at half time, but the character and spirit they showed to score 14 unanswered points to get the all important draw, was just enough to squeeze through.
“We knew the door was still ajar, but qualification was out of our hands and we needed to rely on other results to go our way.
“I would again like to thank all the Wasps supporters who cheered on the players at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.
“They played a huge part in that second half performance, by really getting behind the players when their backs were against the wall and we all really appreciated that support.”
Toulon are one of the most formidable sides in club rugby, overflowing with internationals, the most famous of whom last season was Jonny Wilkinson, who led Toulon to the title.
However, Wasps are relishing the challenge for the trip to the South of France in April for what is sure to be a European trip to savour for the club’s supporters.
Young added: “We now have the ultimate test in club rugby ahead of us, a knock out game against the defending champions, Toulon, in their own back yard.
“They are a side of galacticos and you always want to test yourself against the very best in the game. It doesn’t come any bigger or better than Toulon in the South of France for a place in the European Semi Finals.
“We, along with our loyal Wasps supporters are all incredibly excited. This is a significant milestone for the Club – our first quarter final in Europe’s top tier since 2007. It is a reflection of how far this young squad has come in the last couple of years and I am thrilled for them.
“It will be a fantastic European occasion that will live long in the memory for players and supporters alike. It is the kind of game you dream of playing in and supporters can make a weekend of it, supporting their team on the road.”
Wasps win a lineout battle. Picture by Jon Mullis 04.015.002.cov.jm34 (www.buyphotos247.com)
Wasps v Leinster. Picture by Jon Mullis 04.015.002.cov.jm27 (www.buyphotos247.com)
Ashley Jackson. Picture by Jon Mullis 04.015.002.cov.jm47 (www.buyphotos247.com)
Coventry-born Andy Goode came close with a dropped goal attempt which sailed narrowly wide. Picture by Jon Mullis 04.015.002.cov.jm22 (www.buyphotos247.com)
Ben Jacobs leads a breakaway attack for Wasps. Picture by Jon Mullis 04.015.002.cov.jm46 (www.buyphotos247.com)