Rugby: Young backs Wasps to improve

Dai Young will enter the new Aviva Premiership campaign satisfied that Wasps can only improve following the trauma of last season.

Rugby News: London Wasps

Wasps were under siege on and off the pitch last term as they contended with an extraordinary injury list that included the enforced retirement of three England players and the threat of bankruptcy.

They nearly paid the ultimate price of relegation, only to escape on the final day of the season with a solitary point separating them from bottom place Newcastle.

The landscape is far brighter now with the squad, bolstered by the recruitment of England forwards James Haskell and Tom Palmer, Welsh fly-half Stephen Jones, Italian centre Andrea Masi and South African number eight Ashley Johnson, close to full fitness.

And with former player Ken Moss ready to buy the club from current owner Steve Hayes, director of rugby Young knows fortunes must improve.

"The only luck we had last year was bad luck. I don't believe we can experience anything worse than last season," Young said.

"We had the injury list from hell and then all the financial difficulties. I fail to see how this season can be any worse.

"It's certainly made me stronger as a director of rugby and nothing in my career can rival what we went through last year.

"Very rarely do you get it from all angles and we were surrounded last season. We had the wagons circled for long periods.

"It certainly wasn't what I expected when I joined. We were ninth the season I arrived and then we lost so many players to injury.

"Within a month several of the senior guys had retired - 200-odd England caps were gone and we could only replace them with kids.

"But the really massive shock was what came off the field - no one in their right mind would have signed on had they known we were in that position.

"I signed on the understanding Wasps would have a new stadium, training facilities and investment pumped into the club.

"We were supposed to move upwards on a step-by-step process, but within six weeks of signing the club was put up for sale.

"We're in a much more positive situation now, but I'm not going to make bold statements about charging up the leagues.

"We want a solid season and then build year on year."

Wasps were blighted by a staggering 17 serious injuries last season, including the unexpected retirements of Joe Worsley, Steve Thompson and Tom Rees.

All 17 players saw their season ended, entered retirement or were out for a minimum of 12 weeks.

The casualty rate has forced Young to examine the methods used at Adams Park and overhaul certain areas.

"I've never come across an injury list like that and we've left no stone unturned in finding out why it happened," he said.

"We've looked at everything that we've done. We've changed things to help, like buying new equipment and making sure the players are not on their feet as much as last year.

"We've done a lot more on injury prevention so that the players are far more robust. We've attacked it from every possible angle.

"But a lot of the injuries were just impact injuries that couldn't be helped and just happened.

"You normally have four operations in a year, but we had 12.

"It wasn't players out for two weeks, they were out for three months."

The Wasps trophy cabinet bulged with four Premiership and two Heineken Cup titles between 2002 and 2008, but the club has fallen on hard times since.

"Our fans knew the players gave everything and they also knew we just weren't good enough," Young said.

"Most of the fans recall the period before we were winning Heineken Cups and Premiership titles.

"We went through dark days then because we weren't always a championship-winning team. They stuck by us and I was very encouraged by that."



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