Having moved away from their traditional home at Adams Park ahead of this season, Wasps got their premiership season off to a rocky start, with just six wins coming from their first 11 Aviva premiership games.
However impressive performances in the European Champions Cup, including demolishing European giants Leinster and Toulon, combined with a much improved showing in the second half of the premiership season, have seen Wasps become one of the most feared sides in Europe.
With the signing of Danny Cipriani already announced, and several more rumours doing the rounds, we take a look at seven reasons why Wasps could rival Toulon and dominate Europe for years.
- The return of a long lost son – When Danny Cipriani left Wasps for the Melbourne Rebels in 2010 it was seen as a chance to make a real impression on world rugby, as the first Englishman to play in an Australian Super Rugby side. While things did exactly go to plan, Cipriani has rebuilt his career under at Sale, and his unique ability to create something out of nothing could be vital for Wasps if they are indeed to dominate Europe.
- He’s not the only 10 – Rugby fans throughout the country might be expecting Cipriani to walk straight into the fly-half shirt at the Coventry based side next season, however Jimmy Gopperth has been pivotal to the side’s success this season, and will not give up the shirt without a fight. Gopperth’s superior goal-kicking could mean Cipriani will have to work even harder for a starting berth, and the competition between the two of them and Rhuraidh Jackson could bring the best out of all of them.
- The flying kiwis – Charles Piutau may be set to leave for Ulster at the end of the current season, however rumours have been circling over a potential deal to secure the full-back’s future at the club, and with fellow All Black Frank Halai definitely staying with the club beyond the current campaign, Wasps’ fans can rest assured at least one of their eye-catching kiwis will be around in future years, if not two.
- England’s young guns – In Elliott Daly and Christian Wade Wasps have two of England’s most dangerous and exciting outside backs. Daly has already earned the appraisal of Eddie Jones and Wade has undoubtedly been unlucky not to have won more caps for England, while Joe Launchbury is already one of the best second rows in Europe. The three of them have surely got years of top level rugby in them and have the potential to help Wasps become European giants.
- They’ve toppled Toulon – And they did it in style! Their 32-6 win over the European champions could well have been singled out as a lucky one-off, however a last-minute defeat to the same opposition in the South of France, as well as two hammerings of Leinster, proved this was simply not the case. If Dai Young’s side do want to go on to dominate the European game, they will have to beat the very best regularly, something they have already started to do.
- The Nathan Hughes factor – The Fijian born number 8 has arguably been the stand-out player in this year’s premiership season. He qualifies to play for England in the summer, and could create a severe selection headache for Eddie Jones given Billy Vunipola’s imperious form. Still only 24 though, Hughes’s devastating ability with ball in hand could give Wasps vital front foot ball if they are to conquer Europe.
- More signings to come? – Wasps have been linked with some of the best players in the world in recent months, including David Pocock and Kurtley Beale. Pocock has re-signed with the Brumbies until 2019 quelling any chance of his arrival, and whether Beale’s signing becomes anything more than an optimistic rumour remains to be seen, but if Piutau does leave the club at the end of the season, the Ricoh Arena could be welcoming more big names in 2016.