How different is life at the top and the bottom of the Premiership? Harlequins ensured their place in the play-offs yesterday, for only the second time, and found time to commiserate with their London rivals over the threat to their very existence among England's elite.
"Wasps are too loved a club by too many people for something not to happen," said Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, when asked about the financial crisis in which Wasps find themselves. But the Irishman also observed: "What is there to buy? We own our ground, that gives us a massive amount of stability."
Last week was among the blackest that Wasps have suffered, as they acknowledged that their hopes of a fresh investor have yet to reach fruition. To add to their woes, the success of Newcastle at Gloucester yesterday has halved the gap at the foot of the table and makes it ever more likely that relegation could hinge on the season's final game, on 5 May, when Wasps play the Falcons at Adams Park. Next weekend Wasps travel to Bath while Newcastle host Saracens – there is no guarantee of a positive return for either club.
"It doesn't get much tougher, when people are starting to worry about whether they will have a job in four or five weeks' time," said David Young, the Wasps director of rugby. "But that's something for the board. They have been confident from the word go that they would get a sale, we have to trust them to do that.
"What happens if we don't get an investor, I don't know. But we have to ensure they have Premiership rugby. We are asking a hell of a lot of players, many of whom are just kids, to play this level week in, week out. What they have done is show how much they want to be part of Wasps."
Young's efforts have been crippled by an injury list longer than King Kong's arm, to which was added Richard Haughton just before kick-off, the full-back pulling out with an achilles strained in the warm-up. He was joined after 12 minutes by Ryan Davis, the centre damaging an ankle, so that to be within a converted try of Quins at the interval was a minor miracle.
That was due as much to the home side's shortcomings as to a defence which conceded too many penalties. A strong wind blowing into Quins' faces played its part but Ugo Monye scored one try and helped make another before half-time; the wing crossed in the corner after his forwards drove from a line-out and then, though held up, left the ball for George Robson to trot over the line.
It was fitting that the lock should score, so well did he play. Even so, Wasps created a fine try of their own through Nick Robinson's inside ball to Christan Wade, the young wing of whom so much is expected speeding to the posts without a hand being laid on him.
It put a false gloss on the scoreline and the game was put to bed when Quins scored two tries in eight second-half minutes, through Chris Robshaw and Jordan Turner-Hall. A visit to the sin-bin by Billy Vunipola did nothing to help Wasps. Another replacement, Ross Filipo, scored after a strong run by Charlie Davies, but as has so often been the case for Wasps this season, it was too little too late.
Harlequins M Brown; U Monye (R Chisholm, 64), G Lowe, J Turner-Hall (B Urdapilleta, 71), S Smith; R Clegg, D Care (K Dickson, 61); J Marler (M Lambert, 68), R Buchanan (A Croall, 71), J Johnston (W Collier, 58), O Kohn (T Vallejos, 71), G Robson, M Fa'asavalu, N Easter, C Robshaw (capt; T Guest, 55).
London Wasps J Wallace; C Wade, E Daly (T Prydie, 51), R Davis (C Mayor, 12), T Varndell; N Robinson, C Davies; T Payne (Z Taulafo, 70), T Lindsay (V Korshunov, 53), B Broster (S McIntyre, 59), J Cannon (R Filipo, 51), R Birkett (capt), J Launchbury (B Vunipola, 51), S Jones, J Poff.
Referee JP Doyle (London).
Tries: Monye, Robson, Robshaw, Turner-Hall
Cons: Clegg 2
Pens: Clegg 3
Tries: Wade, Filipo
Cons: Robinson 2
Pen: RobinsonReuse content