RUGBY UNION: WASPS director of rugby Dai Young admits the club enjoying every minute of their European adventure after beating Exeter Chiefs to progress to the semi-final of rugby’s biggest cup competition.
With 22 minutes to play Wasps found themselves 13 points behind at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday and it looked as though they were heading out of the European Champions Cup.
But two late tries brought the home side back to within just one point and the hero of the day Jimmy Gopperth held his nerve to land the all-important conversion to secure a dramatic 26-24 victory and set up a semi-final clash against Saracens at the Madejski Stadium in Reading on April 23.
“Fair play to Jimmy, you’ve got to give him credit as it wasn’t an easy kick,” said Young. “Not many people in the stadium were watching it with two eyes open, and if it was going a little bit to the left, then the Wasps fans blew it back in!
“We always knew this was going to be tough, so we are going to enjoy it because the boys deserve it.
“It’s new territory for us, we haven’t been this far in Europe for nine years. So we are looking forward to being right up there at the sharp end of these competitions.
“We’ve enjoyed the European Cup and we worked hard to reach the quarter-final. Us getting out of the group was a statement, because it was a tough pool and we did very well to get a home draw.
“That was probably the difference between us sneaking through today and not. Getting to a semi-final in Europe can’t be sniffed at.”
Almost 24,000 fans packed into the Ricoh Arena to cheers Wasps over the line and Young again paid tribute to the home support, describing the Ricoh crowd as ‘sensational’.
He added: “It was probably the busiest and noisiest reception we’ve had yet, getting off the team bus and it was just incredible. You can’t underestimate how much that kind of reception means to the players.
“In the stadium as well, they were magnificent. One of the first things the players said when they came in the changing room after the game, was how loud our Wasps’ fans were and how much they got behind the team when we went behind. That meant a lot to everyone and on behalf of all the players, I’d like to thank them for that kind of backing.”