WASPS’ strong start to the 2016 Aviva Premiership season has come as no surprise to one of the club’s former captains, now that all of the squad have set up home in Coventry and Warwickshire.
The squad spent the summer browsing the West Midlands for a permanent base, to be closer to the club’s training ground at Broadstreet Rugby Club and the Ricoh Arena, with Binley Woods, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Nuneaton proving to be popular destinations.
The insight came from Chris Bell, who played for the club between 2010 and 2015, as well as Harlequins between 2001 and 2004 – the side who are next up at the Ricoh this Sunday.
Bell is currently head of off-field player development at Wasps and spends four days a week at the club’s temporary training base, working with the players.
“Moving up to the Midlands has really added to the closeness of the squad,” said Bell.
“It’s always been a tight-knit group of players, who get on really well and have a fantastic team spirit, but the move has taken that togetherness to another level.
“All of the players now live in and around the Coventry area, which means more of them can spend time together after training and matches.
“A few of the first teamers like Dan Robson and Nathan Hughes were already living up in the Midlands, but it’s been a busy summer for the majority of the playing staff who have been looking to settle down in the area following the move to Broadstreet.
“Spending more time together with your team mates makes a massive difference as they become like a second family which breeds togetherness – a must-have ingredient every team needs when things get tough on the pitch.”
Harlequins are currently celebrating their 150th year, with Wasps to follow next year, having started as one club – Hampstead Heath, before a group rebelled against Hampstead Heath’s new team colours and created a separate club called Wasps.
Ever since the split both clubs have encountered a competitive rivalry spanning generations, one which remains even though both clubs are now miles apart as Wasps go in search of a 12th straight home win in all competitions.
Chris added: “It’s important to remember our heritage, especially games against Harlequins, but the club’s head and heart is in Coventry now it has a home that it can call its own, and with everybody settled in the local area we’re seeing consistently impressive results on the pitch.”