Once upon a time, London Wasps were one of the strongest sides in the Premiership, rivaling the likes of Leicester Tigers for who would be crowned English champions.
However despite their successful history in English rugby union’s top flight, four years after last winning the league, Wasps scraped survival on the final day by staying up by a point in the 2011/12 season.
Wasps had been brought down to reality five years after they last won the Premiership, a crown they’ve won four times in total along with the Heineken Cup (twice) and the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
However this year, things have started to move in the right direction. As good as Wasps had been going forward in the 2012/13 season, they looked extremely vulnerable in defence.
This past year, the side seemed much more solid off the ball (excluding the 74-13 loss to Northampton), a lot of the praise for which must go to new defence coach Brad Davis who joined from Bath at the start of the season.
As great as a fully fit Wasps starting 15 is, the squad looked thin in some areas, something coach Dai Young has addressed with some major coups in the transfer market for next season.
Alpati Leiua - who will join from Super 15 side Hurricanes - can play either on the wing or in the centre and will bring a huge physical presence to the backline in the same kind of way Manu Tuilagi does for the Tigers.
Other notable backline signings are Scottish international fly half Ruaridh Jackson, who is looking to reignite his career after falling down the pecking order at Glasgow Warriors. He will challenge Andy Goode for the 10 shirt as well as promising full-back Rob Miller.
In the pack, Young has managed to convince 42 cap Welsh international lock Bradley Davies to sign, along with Italian international Cittadini and hooker Ed Shervington from relegated Worcester Warriors.
As well as all of this, James Gaskell has signed from Sale, a player who has just been named in England’s training camp for the upcoming internationals against the All Blacks. His arrival will further increase the amount of depth Wasps have in the back row, with James Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Guy Thompson, Nathan Hughes and Sam Jones already at the club.
Strength in depth at the back of the scrum is something great Wasps teams of the past have all had, with the Premiership winning side of 2007/08 containing John Hart, James Haskell, Lawrence Dallaglio, Tom Rees and Joe Worsley.
Mix all these exciting new signings in with the likes of the young Joe Launchbury, Christian Wade, Jake Cooper Woolley and the experience of veteran Andy Goode, Tom Varndell and a rejuvenated James Haskell and Wasps could potentially have the right mix for something special in the upcoming season.
Wasps fans must be licking their lips at what the team will be able to achieve next year. Young now has a quality squad at his disposal and the challenge of rivalling the likes of Leicester and Saracens for a spot in the top four looks even more achievable.
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