The 'Wasps Way'


Dan Robson Scores
By Gaz
April 30 2017

Would you trade entertainment and flair for a trophy?

Internet forums are a rallying point for opposing opinion. On the one hand, you have contributors openly stating their preference to be entertained, to be able to regularly watch the most collectively talented back line in the country cut loose against more pragmatic opponents, even at the cost of silverware. Some go as far as to state that they would not choose to watch some opposition teams on a regular basis. Yet on the other hand, there are those, often the supporters of those ‘other’ clubs, who measure success with silverware alone. But does success need to be at the cost of entertainment? Is it an either/or question? I will use two imaginary teams to illustrate;
 
Let us imagine Team 1: the backs are invariably big, direct runners and are not averse to seeking out contact, perhaps with a preference towards driving opposition defenders back a few metres. The game tends to go through passages of kicking for territory, it becomes obvious that one team is made for this tactic and has practiced it as part of their game plan, more often than not winning the territorial and aerial battle through well-timed chasers or just making life difficult at subsequent line-outs and breakdowns. Emphasis at scrums and mauls is on winning penalties and feeding off opposition mistakes through phases of pick-and-go moves among the forwards. Until gaps appear when the ball is sometimes passed to a back in space who invariably has a short run in to score a try. If this fails, they will win a penalty at some point and choose to take the three points. Of if feeling ambitious, will take a 5 metre lineout and driving maul option.
 
Or at the other end of our imaginary spectrum there is Team 2: whose forwards are smaller, lighter and more mobile. The backs have pace, flair, a preference for space and have practiced the art of the late pass and offload. Handling skills have an emphasis on catch and pass as opposed to ball retention. Intricate decoy runs, mis-passes, and strike moves are developed on the training ground. Forwards tackle often and the backs overwhelm the opposition with pace and step, and move the ball quickly and fluidly. Possession and territory are often conceded at the expense of looking for space, or at least having players who prefer to pass or find space. A try is often scored as the outcome of individual brilliance, and the move often originates from beyond the 22-metre line.
 
So, common opinion, and this is not a hypothesis I would necessarily advocate, suggests that Saracens and Exeter are fine exponents of the former. And that Wasps are exponents of the latter. Team 1’s have the physical power and composure and know what to do to win, while Team 2’s are just ‘Fancy-Dans’ and will be found out by a well-drilled Team 1 at some point. “Forwards win matches, backs decide by how much”.
 
The purpose of this article is not to criticise other teams’ methods or styles.These are lazy stereotypes and I have used two extremes. In my view, to be one of the top 4 teams after a 22-game league requires an all-court game, they say the table doesn’t lie. A team containing the likes of Kurtley Beale, Willie Le Roux, Christian Wade, Elliot Daly and Danny Cipriani (team 2) has every chance of winning a one-off game against anyone. Wasps winning try last Sunday was the outcome of driving mauls and finally a pick-and-go move scored from 5 metres by Matt Mullan (team 1), and that was the most valuable try Wasps have scored this season so far, turning a loss into a bonus point win at a key stage of the season.
 
Perhaps the art of a consistent, or dependable winner is to be able to be both, and to know how and when to adapt, often in the heat of the battle. This is where Saracens have the edge and others have some catching up to do, the gap can only be closed through experience of playing in big one-off games, and perhaps in this regard, Exeter also have a slight edge on Wasps having recent experience of finals.
 
But the worry for some Wasps fans is do we still have belief in our philosophy and have the confidence to take our game to a final or semi-final? Does our style sacrifice defensive organisation too much? Are we too ‘Fancy-Dan’? Some say we lack ‘structure’, whatever that means. I think it means having the situational awareness to know when to close a game down, and Saracens are excellent at knowing when and how to do exactly that, and that should be admired and replicated, in our own Wasps way, of course.
 
It’s great to be a Wasps fan at the moment. We will just have to wait to see whether the season ends in silverware, but would it be enough to be gallant losers? It would for me. But there is that other word the creeps into discussion from time to time: expectation.

pqs: qs:
The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: DrunkenWasps.com (IP Logged)
Date: 30/04/2017 21:58

What do you think? You can have your say by posting below.
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Penn Wasp (IP Logged)
Date: 30/04/2017 22:39

Loved the article - thanks for putting it together.

Personally, I would be happier we were an entertaining, gallant loser rather than a 'boring' winner - because I watch rugby to be entertained.

What makes Sarries and Chiefs formidable is that they execute on their game plan precisely. Many teams in the premiership try to play the same game but do not.
We on the other hand, will give anyone a run for their money if we play our game well AND put the physical effort in and limit silly mistakes.

So, yes we can play exciting rugby and win - but we need to implement as well as Sarries implement their plan.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: CB Wasp (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 07:52

Well!! During the regular season it is absolutely great to be entertained with 5 or 6 try home victories against the bottom 8 teams and occasional European visitors.

But is this really enough? Not quite for me. I do want our team to win European quarters and semis and make and win finals very soon, because unless we do I fear that we will slip down the tables again, a little bit like Bath in the last couple of years, especially as some of the bottom 8 become stronger and more competitive over a season.

Remember the Quinns European game 2 seasons ago at the Stoop. We defended for 70 minutes of that game. Haskell made about 30 tackles on our 22 and they did not score! I was delighted, what a performance, what teamwork!

If we are to be revived this season then It is teamwork that will see us through. Defend as a team, secure good quick ball phase after phase and then we can enjoy the champagne rugby that our backs can deliver.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Heathen (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 08:44

The annoying thing is that rocket science is not needed to fix it.

We do not need to sacrifice our attacking flair.

As said above, we just have to be better organised (plus cut out the kamikaze stuff).

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Oxtedwasps (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 09:00

Well said Heathen, the differences between winners and losers is so close these days.

Surely a combination of team 1 and team 2 is the optimum?

For those of us who have been around a long time, (1970's), gulp,supporting the club, one of the best things was that we were a middle table club that came good at the end of the season and produced giant killing performances, always the underdogs, perhaps being one of the giants doesn't suit us?

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: ricohchezwasp (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 09:33

The fact is our main competitors have started with a not lose attitude, solid defence strong kick and chase and rarely sacrifice this defence to attack, over the years they have developed a more attacking game without this sacrifice. In the early years Sarracens would lose to anyone who could match their defensive strengths and beat them because they did not score enough points.This has changed.

We have adopted a more attacking streak but along the way since Brad Left we seem to have lost our way defensively. its too late to change this year but we will need to change going forwards.

Not a Doctor and not a troll!!

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Raggs (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 10:26

Our defence had it's bad days with Brad too, slightly less porous perhaps, but we had very bad days then too, and still often didn't have good linespeed.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: backdoc (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 11:28

Do we not think that there is an inconsistency [at least] in our forward play, both at set piece and at the breakdown?

Since xmas we have been one down in the forwards coach line-up, which presumably means Dai has to do this as well?

Are our defensive problems in part because it is easy to get front-foot ball against us?

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Andy1210 (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 12:48

Does it coincide with the same time we got rid of our forwards coach?

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Raggs (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 15:30

We got rid of him after our scrum was minced.

Against Leinster we held well against two lions props. And we've rarely been dominated there. Lineout has been reasonable whilst not great and maul defence in general has been good.

Set piece for me has mostly been good.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Vespulavulgaris (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 15:40

What Raggs said.

To me the thing that is missing is not the skill but the intensity.

We have done well at the set piece when we've managed to keep the intensity up. Even against Toulon at home last season we drove the intensity despite being hammered in the scrum.

Our defence is great when we commit to it and force the pace. Same with our attack. What causes that difference is not a defence coach, or even an attack coach. It is something more than that and I don't know what.

But I do know our apparent slide in performance does seem to coincide with Beale announcing he is leaving.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Raggs (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 16:06

I agree that intensity is missing (mostly from defence), but I do think that is on the coaches. You only have to see what desire the likes of Farrell and Gustard get out of players in defence.

Our defence get's outnumbered too often, and whilst that's a problem that the players should be solving on the pitch, that it happens constantly means it's a coaching issue to be resolved.

We may of course simply spend more time training attack than defence, and that's fine as long as we commit to it, but committing to it means starting Cips.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: backdoc (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 20:48

Not convinced by the comments on the scrum.We always look under pressure to me.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: WaspieKev (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 21:32

Quote:
backdoc
Not convinced by the comments on the scrum.We always look under pressure to me.

I agree - we just dont look that secure at scrum time.

However, I'm not sure that KB's decision coming half way through the season should make much difference to our performance as it was always a possible scenario. Still, I think it was odd that the club chose to allow him to release it as its certainly had an effect on us supporters!

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Dgwasp (IP Logged)
Date: 01/05/2017 21:53

I'm not sure the club had much choice over the timing as I'm sure Cheika would have said something before the end of the season given the pressure he must be under... Not sure if it is posted elsewhere, however I saw a rumour in the telegraph that Beale might be up for a return to Wasps after the world cup... Making him 31/32 I think.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: DuncanS (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 06:31

Seems to me Dai has lost his nerve to an extent in dropping Danny. Gopps is seen as the safe option, but he doesn't possess Danny's creativity (who does?). It's too late in the season to move away from the tactics that got us to top spot in the first place, and moving Jimmy to 10 doesn't seem to have worked. @#$%& or bust! Cips to 10 for the rest of the season, and let's give it a lash!

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: NellyWellyWaspy (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 06:43

Quote:
Dgwasp
I'm not sure the club had much choice over the timing as I'm sure Cheika would have said something before the end of the season given the pressure he must be under... Not sure if it is posted elsewhere, however I saw a rumour in the telegraph that Beale might be up for a return to Wasps after the world cup... Making him 31/32 I think.

His contract with Waratahs expires at the 2019 WC, leaving him a free agent in November 2019. On Rugby Tonight last week he said he wanted to come back (there is a recorded snippet on the BT Sport site somewhere). If he does come back at that time, I cannot see a lot of money being on the table.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: ElliesBoss (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 07:05

There's a normal way and a Wasps way. What's new? I prefer the Wasps way!

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Raggs (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 07:24

Quote:
DuncanS
Seems to me Dai has lost his nerve to an extent in dropping Danny. Gopps is seen as the safe option, but he doesn't possess Danny's creativity (who does?). It's too late in the season to move away from the tactics that got us to top spot in the first place, and moving Jimmy to 10 doesn't seem to have worked. @#$%& or bust! Cips to 10 for the rest of the season, and let's give it a lash!

Perhaps, perhaps not, Danny hasn't been 100% with his injury, so it may be they are simply controlling his game time, hoping to break into the playoffs and have him fully fit. I do tend to agree with you, but until we see our playoffs side, I wouldn't call it either way.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: westwaleswasp (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 07:40

Not sure there is much wrong with the pack that the real Hughes and Hask could not sort, but this year's versions seem ineffective. Our set piece has been reasonable for the most part, but it has not been destructive, which could be the next step.
I struggle to see how we could grind out results with regularity with our back line. Our backs are meant to play some. It has been a good season.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: FishingWasp (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 12:07

I have heard on several occasions TV commentators, about our opposition "that's the best they have played all season", including Quins last week.

Do we bring out the best in other teams, or just make them look good?

Not a criticism, just an observation, and be interested to hear others views.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Gaz (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 12:22

Quote:
ElliesBoss
There's a normal way and a Wasps way. What's new? I prefer the Wasps way!
(Sm128)

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Raggs (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 12:28

Quins were very good, definitely one of their better performances.

Re: The 'Wasps Way'
Posted by: Nigel Med (IP Logged)
Date: 02/05/2017 12:29

Just a thought. Could our slump in form be a conditioning issue? Watching the Quins game I thought we looked comfortable in the first half, for the most part we contained them quite easily, even when tackles were missed we had players available to scramble back and slow down the attack. At the beginning of the second half there were a few attacks where we seemed to have really upped the pace, quick ball from the breakdown, putting it through the hands, the sort of fabulous rugby that we played for much of the season and that is so difficult to defend against. Problem was, time and time again we didn't get support to the breakdown quick enough and got turned over with ease. Are we just not fit enough to play at that pace at this point in the season? It's all very well saying we need to up the intensity, perhaps we've not got sufficient reserves in the tank to do it over 80 minutes.

This of course doesn't excuse dropping balls or missing easy tackles but watching players like Hasks who was tearing up trees this time last year, and Young who looked to be the natural successor to Smith at the beginning of the season, they are shadows of their former selves.

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
We record all IP addresses on the Sportnetwork message boards which may be required by the authorities in case of defamatory or abusive comment. We seek to monitor the Message Boards at regular intervals. We do not associate Sportnetwork with any of the comments and do not take responsibility for any statements or opinions expressed on the Message Boards. If you have any cause for concern over any material posted here please let us know as soon as possible by e-mailing abuse@sportnetwork.net