Top 10 Wasps Moments: A Look Back At The Club's Greatest Accomplishments - Ruck

Top 10 Wasps Moments: A Look Back At The Club’s Greatest Accomplishments

Wasps were on the receiving end of truly heart-breaking news yesterday, as it was announced that the RFU had revoked the club’s status to play in the RFU Championship next season.

Wasps will instead start again from the very bottom of the English rugby pyramid, and begin an arduous journey back to the top flight. Wasps are one of the stalwarts of English rugby, and are an instantly recognisable side. With their accomplished history, iconic logo and alumni list presenting a collection of legends of the game, Wasps will be sorley missed by more than just their own fans.

The rugby fanbase hopes to see Wasps follow the re-start trajectory of London Welsh, who after five consecutive promotions are slowly but surely climbing their way back up to the Premiership. With hopes that we will see the Wasps back in the top flight in a decade’s time we look back on the club’s 10 greatest accomplishments.

  1. The Founding of Wasps

Wasps’ history within English rugby can not be understated. Wasps are an integral part of English rugby’s backbone, and were invited to be founding members of the RFU, yet along with the majority of invited clubs, Wasps did not attend the initial meeting. Wasps’ history can be traced back as far as 1867, when Hampstead Football Club was split in two following membership disputes, creating Wasps and then London rivals Harlequins.

Interestingly, Harlequins came up with their name to take precedence over the initials ‘HFC’, yet Wasps opted for the venomous insect, in what was deemed fashionable during the Victorian era. Wasps are amongst the world’s oldest rugby clubs, and their established status saw them become one of the best in the earlier amateur days. The 1930/31 season saw Wasps go undefeated for the first time, as the club dominated the opposition of yester-year.

2. First English Champions of the Professional Era

Wasps’ decorated history sees them claim the accolade of being the first ever English Champions of the professional rugby era. The 1996/97 Courage League National 1 was the first fully-professional club rugby league to ever take place. Wasps had a tremendous season winning 18 out of 22 matches, in an era before Premiership Play-Offs, Wasps took top spot of the table, six points ahead of second placed Bath.

This was Wasps second league title in rugby’s top flight, their first triumph coming in the amateur era’s 1989/90 season. This monumental feat of being crowned the first English champions of the professional era, is a truly one of a kind accomplishment that will never be repeated. This reinforces how Wasps have been part of English rugby’s structural make-up, throughout the sport’s long and rich history.

3. First Cup Final Win – 1999 Tetley’s Bitter Cup

The Teltley’s Bitter Cup was one name iteration of a decorated club competition. Formerly the RFU Knockout Cup until 2005, Tetley’s brewery sponsored the event in the year which Wasps won their first ever cup final. The competition has since been known as the Anglo-Welsh Cup until 2018, and most recently as the Premiership Rugby Cup which we see today. A highly sought-after prize in the domestic club game, Wasps finally got their hands on the trophy in 1998/99 season.

Wasps came within touching distance of the trophy a year prior, but were defeated 48-18 by a dominant Saracens team. The following season, Wasps were back in the final, and put in a stellar performance against Newcastle Falcons for a 29-19 win. Wasps followed this up by retaining the title the next season, with a 31-23 victory over Northampton Saints, demonstrating their hirearcle status within the English club game.

4. 2002/03 Premiership and European Challenge Cup Double Glory

Wasps continued to add to their trophy cabinet in the new millennium, with their iconic rivalry with Bath taking centre stage throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. Wasps and Bath met in the final of the 2002/03 European Challenge Cup, presenting the top Premiership clubs on the European stage.

A match winning try from Samoan international Trevor Leatoa secured Wasps European glory for the first time, with the win 40-38 made ever sweeter over their old rivals. Wasps maintained this winning form into the closing rounds of the Zurich Premiership. The then London club took Northampton Saints to the sword in the semi-final, before dominating Gloucester in the final 39-3, and lifting the Premiership trophy at Twickenham.

5. 2003/04 First Heineken Champions Cup Win and Premiership Double

Building on the paramount success of the 2002/03 season, Wasps exceeded expectations and did one better the following year. Wasps completed a prestigious European Champions Cup and Premiership double, as they established themselves on top of the European club rugby world. Wasps enjoyed the most incredible fortnight of success, winning the two illustrious competitions in back-to-back weekends.

Wasps first took the fight to Toulouse, in their first ever Champions Cup Final appearance. Tries from centre Stuart Abbott, fullback Mark van Gisbergen laid the foundations for Wasps’ triumph, before Wales legend Robert Howley scored in the final minute of the match, for a memorable 27-20 victory. Impressively, the Wasps players held their focus, with celebrations only permitted after the following weekend’s Premiership Final.

Wasps’ were once again re-united with Bath, as they etched another chapter in their shared storied rivalry. Abbott once again contributed with a try, with van Gisbergen this time adding a conversion. Alex King’s drop goal kicked decisive distance between the two rivals, for a 10-6 Wasps victory at the home of English rugby.

6. Retaining the Premiership Title for a Third Consecutive Year – 2004/05

Wasps dominance of the Premiership knew no bounds throughout the early 2000s, as they once again lifted the top prize in English club rugby, and boasted a certifiable all-star team. Lawrence Dallaglio was once again at the helm, as he captain his side to a third consecutive Premiership rugby title. This victory came at the expense of Leicester Tigers, who were well beaten by a staggering 39-14 Twickenham victory.

Wasps had a star-studded team in the early 2000s, that was decorated by England internationals and British & Irish Lions. The likes of Matt Dawson, Simon Shaw, Phill Greening and Joe Worsley who accompanied Dallaglio to Twickenham glory in 2005, also wore the white of England and the red of the British & Irish Lions. This 2004/05 Premiership triumph would be the last title for a brief while, and wrapped up an accomplished hat-trick of success.

7. Wasps Supply the Entire Back Row for England – 2007 Six Nations

Whilst maintaining their status among the Premiership’s elite, Wasps had begun to gain acknowledgement on an international scale. For the 2007 Six Nations match between England and Wales, it was announced that the entire England back row was to be made up on Wasps contracted players.

This was a first for any Premiership club, as James Haskell, Joe Worsely and Tom Rees lined-up at Six, Seven and Eight for England at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium. Despite the result seeing Wales record a 27-18 win, Wasps took great pride and satisfaction in seeing three of their stars wear the red rose along the back-row.

8. 2007 Heineken Cup Glory and Ending Leicester Tigers Treble Hopes

In what has become Wasps final piece of European silverware for now, they re-claimed their spot atop of European club rugby’s pinnacle with the 2007 Heineken Cup victory. This once again saw a Wasps triumph come at the expense of Leicester Tigers, as the Tigers were lining up a historic treble in the 2006/07 season.

Leicester had already won the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Premiership double, yet Wasps stung the Midlands side with a 25-9 victory. Irish scrum half Eoin Reddan and French hooker Raphael Ibanez scored crucial tries for Wasps, with Alex King kicking enough distance between the two sides, through four penalties and a drop goal.

9. Last Premiership Title – 2007/08

Wasps won their sixth and latest Premiership title in the 2007/08 season, bringing them level on titles won with their old enemies of Bath. Neither Bath or Wasps have clinched the Premiership title since, with this season marking the end of an era of the two sides’ reign over the league. The Premiership final once again saw Wasps get the upper-hand over Leicester Tigers, as the then London Wasps had made a habit of beating the Tigers in Twickenham.

Wasps won their sixth Premiership title after a two-year hiatus, with a 26-16 victory over Leicester. Van Gisbergen was again on hand to kick decisive points for Wasps, just as he had done 2003/04 Premiership Final. The fullback slotted four penalties and a conversion, with Thomas Rees and Josh Lewsey crossing over for first half tries. Wasps would never re-climb to such great Premiership heights over the next 15 season in the top flight, but you never know what the future may hold for the club.

10. Wasps set European Rugby Record Score

On the 12th October 2013, Wasps made history by setting the record for the highest winning margin, in any European rugby competition. Wasps took on Italian side Viadana, in a European Challenge Cup Pool Stage match. The one-way traffic began from the start, as Wasps racked up an enormous 90-17 victory. Wasps scored 14 tries, with fly half Joe Carlisle slotting 10 conversions from the kicking tee.

Wasps scored their tries through two hat-tricks, as back-rower Guy Thompson and winger Will Helu each scored three. Replacement scrum half Jack Moates grabbed a brace, with the remaining tries coming from five separate players. Prop Simon Mcintyre, lock Kearnan Myall, scrum half Joe Simpson, full back Tommy Bell and replacement back Charlie Hayter all built the score-line, as well as a seven points from a penalty try.