London wasps

"Wasps (rugby)" redirects here. This article is about the rugby union team. For the Wasps rugby league team see York City Knights
London Wasps
Full name London Wasps Holdings Ltd
Nickname(s) Waspies, Insects, Pests
Founded 1867;  (1867)
(as "Wasps FC") [1]
Location High Wycombe, England
Ground(s) Adams Park (Capacity: 10,516 [2])
Chairman England Mark Rigby
Coach(es) Wales Dai Young
Captain(s) England Chris Bell
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2012–13 8th
1st kit
2nd kit
3rd kit
Official website

London Wasps is an English professional rugby union team. The men's first team, which forms London Wasps, was derived from Wasps Football Club who were formed in 1867 at the now defunct Eton and Middlesex Tavern in North London, at the turn of professionalism in 1995. London Wasps play at Adams Park, which is located in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

London Wasps have won at least one of each of the major European competitions or knock-out tournaments in the past decade. The team compete in the English club competition, the Aviva Premiership, the Anglo-Welsh competition the LV= Cup and the European knock-out competition, the Amlin Challenge Cup.

They won the Heineken Cup in 2003–04 and 2006–07, the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 1999, 2000 and 2006 and the Aviva Premiership in 1990, 1997, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.



Hampstead Football Club was founded in 1866.[1] A split in the membership resulted in the formation of two different clubs: Harlequin F.C. and Wasps. Wasps Football Club was itself formed in 1867[1] at the now defunct Eton and Middlesex Tavern in North London;[1] names of insects, birds and animals were considered fashionable in the Victorian period. In December 1870, Edwin Ash, Secretary of Richmond Football Club published a letter in the papers which said, "Those who play the rugby-type game should meet to form a code of practice as various clubs play to rules which differ from others, which makes the game difficult to play."

As a reasonably well-established club, the Wasps were eligible to be founder members of the Rugby Football Union (RFU).[1] On 26 January 1871 the meeting was scheduled to take place. However a mix-up led to them sending their representative to the wrong venue at the wrong time on the wrong day.[1] Another version of the story was that he went to a pub of the same name and after consuming a number of drinks was too drunk to make it to the correct address after he realized his mistake. Wasps were, therefore, not present at the inauguration ceremony and forfeited their right to be called foundation members.[1]

Wasps' first home was in Finchley Road, North London. Later, grounds were rented in various parts of London until in 1923 the Wasps found a permanent home at Sudbury, Middlesex, eventually buying the ground outright.[1] The side had somewhat of a renaissance during the 1930s; in the earlier part of the decade they were seen as one of the better English clubs, going unbeaten in the 1930/31 English season.[3] The 1930s also saw the emergence of Neville Compton, who captained the side between 1939 and 1947 and went on to become fixture secretary in 1959 and eventually became the club president in the early 1970s before retiring in 1988.

Wasps went on to host Welsh internationals Vivian Jenkins and Harry Bowcott, in addition to this national representation, numerous Wasps came to play for the England national side, such as Ted Woodward, Bob Stirling, Richard Sharp and Don Rutherford. In 1967, the Wasps club celebrated their centenary. Celebrations took the form of two matches that were held at the Rugby school grounds, where William Webb Ellis is thought to have originated the rugby union game. One match was played against the Barbarian F.C., the other, against another London rugby union club, the Harlequins.


The 1980s saw what was, at that point, an all-time high representation of Wasps players in the England national side. In 1986, Wasps Football Club made their first appearance at the final of the John Player Cup knock-out competition, which originated in 1972. Wasps were defeated by Bath in a close game, where Bath emerged as winners, 25 points to 17. The following year Wasps continued their success in the knock-out competition and they again met Bath in the final. They were however again defeated by Bath in a close game, Bath winning 19 points to 12. Wasp Rob Andrew captained England against Romania in 1989. In 1990, Andrew captained Wasps to their first Courage League title, as they narrowly pipped Orrell to be English champions.


In 1995 Wasps lost 16–36 to Bath in the final of the Pilkington Cup. It was their first appearance in the final since 1987 and 1986, when their opponents — and the eventual winners — on both occasions were also Bath.

After winning the title, Wasps regularly finished in the top three of the Courage league title, although they were never quite good enough to overcome Bath, the pre-eminent club of the time. Then in 1995/96, with many pundits predicting Wasps could make a run for the title, Rob Andrew took up a lucrative deal to become Player Manager of Newcastle Falcons. He recruited several other leading Wasps, including, most notably, Club Captain Dean Ryan. For a few weeks Wasps looked like becoming the first casualty of the professional era as the backbone of their team had left. But under newly appointed captain Lawrence Dallaglio, the club steadied the ship, and managed to finish fourth, and secure a place in the following season's Heineken Cup, which English teams were entering for the first time.

The following season, 1996/97, Wasps won their second league championship, and became the first English Champions of the professional era. It was an equally momentous season off the field. The club split into two parts, with the professional side becoming part of Loftus Road Holdings PLC, who also owned Queens Park Rangers F.C.. One element of the deal saw Wasps move from their traditional Sudbury home to share QPR's Loftus Road stadium.

In 1998, the now-professional Wasps again reached the final of what was now the Tetley's Bitter Cup, but lost 18–48 to a star-studded Saracens side. The following year, Wasps again reached the final, in which they defeated Newcastle Falcons 29–19, to claim their first title in the competition. In 2000, Wasps reached the final for the third consecutive year, successfully defending their title in a 31–23 victory over Northampton Saints.

In the summer of 1999, the professional team — which had been operating as Wasps RFC (professional) since the 1996/97 season — was renamed as London Wasps, to differentiate it from Wasps FC, the amateur side of the club. At the same they adopted a new logo, which was selected as being in keeping with the club's history.


In 2001 ex-Wigan rugby league star Shaun Edwards joined as a coach. He has largely been credited with creating Wasps' famous Blitz Defence that stops teams and is the basis for Wasps' own scoring chances. London Wasps agreed to move out of Queens Park Rangers' Loftus Road stadium to allow Fulham F.C. to rent for 2 seasons between 2002 and 2004, while their ground, Craven Cottage, was redeveloped. They became tenants to Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park at the end of the 2001/02 season. The success of Wasps at their new ground meant they did not return to Loftus Road after Fulham left.

In the 2002/03 European Challenge Cup, Wasps made their way to the final, where they met Bath. Though Bath beat them in numerous finals in the 1990s, the Wasps emerged as champions, beating Bath 48 to 30 at Madejski Stadium. Wasps end of season run to glory also included timely wins that saw them defeat the Northampton Saints, in the Premiership semi final, after finishing 2nd in the league table. This saw them face Gloucester in the final at Twickenham. Wasps superior fitness saw them waltz past the cherry and whites and win their first English title since 1997, by 39 points to 3.

Wasps finished top of their pool in the 2003-04 Heineken Cup, where they went on to defeat Gloucester at the quarter-finals and won a final berth after beating Munster 37 points to 32 in the semi-finals. The semi-final, held at Lansdowne Road, has gone down as one of the all-time classic matches, for its incredible intensity, beating that of most international games. They met Toulouse in the final at Twickenham, where they became champions, defeating the French side, 27 points to 20 winning their first Heineken Cup. Wasps followed up the win the following week, again at Twickenham, by beating Bath to retain the title of England's champion side, and complete a double.

In December 2004 the RFU revealed that the team was to be disqualified from the Powergen Cup for fielding an ineligible player, hooker Jonny Barrett, in a sixth-round game versus Bristol.[4] Wasps went through the season well, after the cup glitch, and retained the English title for a second time, by beating Leicester Tigers in the final at Twickenham. Edwards, however, was not a totally happy man as Wasps conceded their first try of the three Premiership finals in the dying minutes. Warren Gatland signed off at Wasps with a rare smile to continue his coaching with Waikato in New Zealand.

Ian McGeechan became the new Director of Rugby at Wasps from the 2005/06 season, taking over from Gatland. Wasps won the Powergen Anglo-Welsh Cup in the 2005/06 season, beating Llanelli Scarlets in the final at Twickenham. Before the 2006/07 season began, Wasps won the Middlesex 7's in Twickenham, beating Leicester Tigers in the final. Josh Lewsey scored 11 tries in the process.

In the 2007 Six Nations Championship, England vs. Wales game at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wasps supplied the back row of the scrum, James Haskell, Joe Worsley and Tom Rees all made an appearance.[3] This was the first time that any club supplied the entire back row. Unfortunately for England, Wales won the encounter 27 to 18.[5]

In the Heineken Cup of 2007, Wasps qualified by topping their group for a home quarter final. They were drawn against Leinster on 31 March. There was a full house at Adams Park, and three players in total were sent to the Sin Bin, Lawrence Dallaglio in the last moments of the first half, Dominic Waldouck of London Wasps and Malcolm O'Kelly of Leinster later spent time there as well.[6] The final score was 35–13 to wasps. In the Semi Final on Sunday April 22 at Coventry Citys Ricoh Arena, Wasps beat Northampton 30–13 and in doing so, gained a place in the Heineken Cup Final against Leicester Tigers at Twickenham.

Leicester Tigers were the favourites, as they had already won the Anglo-Welsh cup and the Guinness Premiership, the latter just the week before. Wasps went ahead early, and while Leicester kept in the match, Wasps defence was on top form and Leicester did not even score a penalty in the second half. Wasps won 25–9, thanks to penalties by Alex King and tries by Raphael Ibanez and Eoin Reddan to become 2007 champions.

During the 2007/08 season, Wasps went from 10th in the league during October, to beat Leicester Tigers in the Guinness Premiership Final. This sealed a dream send-off for the retiring Lawrence Dallaglio at Twickenham. Wasps won 26–16 thanks to penalties by Mark van Gisbergen and tries by Josh Lewsey and Tom Rees to become the English 2008 champions. Wasps have now won six league titles in all, equal with Bath and just one behind Leicester.

The 2008/9 season was to see Wasps come unstuck. With their captain having retired, many of the players failed to play to their full potential. Wasps would eventually finish in seventh place, having also failed to reach the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup and EDF Anglo Welsh Cup. On 12 May 2009 it was announced in the evening standard that Ian McGeechan had been forced to step down and will now take a consultancy role both at London Wasps and London Scottish.[7] This was confirmed by the BBC on 14 May.[8] Tony Hanks, a former coach at the club, was announced as the new Director of Rugby soon after. He had more recently been coaching at Waikato and also been a stand in for McGeechan for the latter part of the 2008/09 season, while he was primarily committed to British and Irish Lions duty. McGeechan had technically been a Lions employee for the whole season and through agreement with Wasps was loaned back to the club.

The 2009/2010 season started off with an exodus of key players including James Haskell and Tom Palmer who moved to Stade Français, Riki Flutey who also crossed the channel to join Brive and Eoin Reddan who left to join Leinster in Ireland.

In late February it was announced that Danny Cipriani would be leaving for the Melbourne Rebels in Australia and he was determined to leave on a high.

After beating Gloucester 42–26 in the Quarter final of the Amlin cup scoring 5 tries including a hat-trick from winger Tom Varndell, Wasps lost 15–18 at home to Cardiff Blues in the Semi final with Dave Walder kicking all of Wasps points with 5 penalties. Cardiff subsequently beat French Top 14 side Toulon in the final of the competition at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Shaun Edwards left the club in November 2011.[9]

Wasps had a poor 2011/12 season finishing in their lowest position for many seasons in 11th place, narrowly avoiding relegation from the Aviva Premiership. The season was notable for a good start where Wasps beat reigning champions Saracens at Twickenham in the opening match and then runners-up Leicester in the second match. Unfortunately things went downhill from there on as the worst injury toll known to professional rugby union hit the squad with a combined total of 16 serious and long term injuries and retirements.

In May 2012 the Wasps announced a new deal with apparel manufacturer Kukri through to the 2015/16 season. The new black and gold home strip was used for the first time in mid July at the JPMorgan Asset Management Sevens tournament, with a new away strip revealed in August during the lead up to the Aviva Premiership. The hooped blue away shirt was a change from the white or black and gold hoops traditionally used as a tie in with the clubs chosen charity MIND in a combined effort to help raise the awareness of mental health issues in sport. [10]

Dai Young was able to recruit well through the summer bringing in players such as Andrea Massi (2012 6 Nations Player Of The Tournament) and Stephen Jones. He also welcomed back former Wasps Tom Palmer and James Haskell.

On 14 September 2012 ownership of the club was taken over, after protracted financial issues, by Canmango Limited and David Thorne. The club had been put up for sale in October 2011 by Steve Hayes after he was unable to progress with a new stadium and sport and retail development on the Booker Airfield.

On 12 October 2013 Wasps won 90-17 against Viadana to beat their record of their European highest scoring margin, which was 77-17 against Toulouse on 26 October 1996.[11]

Home ground

panorama of Adams Park from the Greene King IPA Terrace

Wasp's first home was in Finchley Road, North London although subsequent years saw grounds being rented in various parts of London. In 1923 Wasps moved to a permanent home at Sudbury, Middlesex, eventually buying the ground outright. Although the team currently play home matches at Adams Park, High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and the ground at Sudbury has been developed for housing, the club house still stands (currently being used as a Hindu Community Centre) and is still considered by many as the club's spiritual home.

Wasps previously played their home games at Loftus Road in West London. They however made the move to High Wycombe in 2002. The crowds figure went up by 31.8% the next season.[12] In recent years, Wasps have played their season opener in the London Double Header at Twickenham, in 2006 this drew a crowd of 51,950, breaking the record set in 2004.[13] From the start of the 2003/4 season to the end of the 2005/6 season the stadium was sponsored by Causeway Technologies and known as the Causeway Stadium.

For the 2007/08 season it was announced[14] that Wasps would begin their defence of the Heineken Cup in Coventry, playing their "home" tie against Munster at Coventry City's Ricoh Arena. While commercially the move was seen as a success[15] with Wasps winning the game 24–23 in front of a crowd of 21,506,[16] the move attracted criticism from some of the club's supporters. It could be argued they had little choice in moving the match away from Adams Park, with Wycombe Wanderers playing an FA Cup tie the same day.

It was announced in 2007 that a joint venture between Wasps, Wycombe Wanderers and Wycombe District Council would fund a new stadium in the High Wycombe area. The favoured site for the new stadium now appears to be Wycombe Air Park, a 208-acre (0.84 km2) site owned by Wycombe District Council and close to the M40 motorway.[17] The site is currently leased as an airfield but the lease expires in 2014 and potentially could be taken back earlier. The loose plans are that it would be 16–17,000 capacity, with a terraced section (it would be the first new football ground in England with terraced section since the Taylor Report). The development would also included retail, hotel, conference and other facilities. Wasps and Wanderers funding would primarily be from Steve Hayes, who had become a 25% share holder through a £250,000 investment in Wycombe Wanderers in June 2004, when the football club became a plc company;[18] and later became managing director.[19] Hayes bought an 11.6% stake in London Wasps Holdings Ltd in August 2007,[20][21] and became chairman of Lawrence Dallaglio's benefit committee.[22] In December 2008, Hayes bought Wright's controlling interest and John O'Connell's share holding in Wasps to take complete control.[23][24]

Current standings

Current squad

2013–14 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under IRB eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-IRB nationality.

Player Position Union
Neil Cochrane Hooker Scotland Scotland
Carlo Festuccia Hooker Italy Italy
Tom Lindsay Hooker England England
Nathan Morris Hooker England England
Simon McIntyre Prop England England
Phil Swainston Prop England England
Matt Mullan Prop England England
Will Taylor Prop Wales Wales
Taione Vea Prop Tonga Tonga
James Cannon Lock England England
Kearnan Myall Lock England England
Joe Launchbury Lock England England
Esteban Lozada Lock Argentina Argentina
Tom Palmer Lock England England
Matt Everard Flanker England England
James Haskell Flanker England England
Sam Jones Flanker England England
Ashley Johnson Flanker South Africa South Africa
Guy Thompson Number 8 England England
Ed Jackson Number 8 England England
Nathan Hughes Number 8 Fiji Fiji
Rory Pitman Number 8 Wales Wales
Player Position Union
Stuart Commins Scrum-half South Africa South Africa
Jack Moates Scrum-half Wales Wales
Charlie Davies Scrum-half England England
Joe Simpson Scrum-half England England
Andy Goode Fly-half England England
Joe Carlisle Fly-half England England
Chris Bell (c) Centre England England
Elliot Daly Centre England England
Charlie Hayter Centre England England
Ben Jacobs Centre Australia Australia
Andrea Masi Centre Italy Italy
Andrew Suniula Centre United States United States
James Bailey Wing England England
William Helu Wing Tonga Tonga
Tom Varndell Wing England England
Christian Wade Wing England England
Josh Bassett Wing England England
Tommy Bell Fullback England England
Hugo Southwell Fullback Scotland Scotland


Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under IRB eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-IRB nationality.

Player Position Union

Will Bigley Prop England England
Alec Hepburn Prop England England
Harry Williams Prop England England
David Hughes Lock England England
Gus Jones Flanker England England
Player Position Union
Jonah Holmes Scrum-half England England
Mitchell Tamiau Centre England England
Liam O'Neill Wing England England

Internationally Capped Players

Transfers 2013–14

Players In

Players Out


Head Coach/Director of Rugby

? 1867–1981
Rob Smith 1981–1996 (Head Coach) Rob Smith is currently London Wasps academy director (February 2008).
Nigel Melville 1996–2002 Current president of USA Rugby, the governing body for the sport in the United States.
Warren Gatland 2002–2005 Current Wales head coach.
Ian McGeechan 2005–2009
Tony Hanks 2009–2011
Leon Holden 2011 Interim Director of Rugby until end of 2010–11 season.
Dai Young 2011–

Notable former players

See also

  • Rugby union in London


External links

  • Official site
  • Official Picture Site
  • Waspies fansite
  • Drunken Wasps fansite
  • London Wasps on Rugby15
  • Adams Park) at Google Maps
  • London Wasps Training ground (Twyford Avenue) at Google Maps
  • PITCH working with Wasps

Coordinates: 51°37′50.00″N 0°48′00.73″W / 51.6305556°N 0.8002028°W / 51.6305556; -0.8002028

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