Wasps’ Andy Goode made 49 Heineken Cup appearances for Leicester and Brive up to 2010, and the former England fly-half fancies bringing up a belated half century in the successor competition, the European Champions Cup, next season. To do so, he needs his club to win the newly instituted play-off, which for this year only is a home-and-away contest between the teams finishing seventh in France and England. Wasps will face Stade Français in High Wycombe and Paris on the weekends of 17 and 24 May.
“You want to test yourself in the top competitions, and at 34 I don’t know how many years I’ll have left,” said Goode, who kicked two penalties and converted four of Wasps’ six tries in Saturday’s 44-38 win over Newcastle. “Hopefully after two big games with Stade Français we’ll be back at the top table of European rugby.”
The 20 teams in the revamped European tournament will be seeded with the champions from the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect Pro 12 and French Top 14 plus two of the three beaten finalists in top spots. The winners of Wasps v Stade Français will face a tough task but the English side believe they will be stronger next season for the addition of Alapati Leiua – the exciting Samoa three-quarter should arrive in August, depending on how his current team, the Hurricanes, do in the Super 15 – plus Bradley Davies, James Gaskell, Rob Miller, Lorenzo Cittadini and Ruaridh Jackson.
“We showed how well and how badly we can play,” said Goode, whose team fell 17-0 behind to tries by Newcastle’s Mike Blair and Joel Hodgson in the opening 15 minutes, but were 29-17 up by half-time. “We have been error-strewn at times and gifted points.”
It was a 15th straight Premiership loss for Newcastle stretching back to October. But they are safe from relegation after Worcester lost to Saracens. The Falcons scored five tries with 18 points from the fly-half, Hodgson. Dean Richards, Newcastle’s director of rugby predicted: “There will be guys moving on who we don’t want to move on.” And the full-back Alex Tait said: “Deano gave us a false ‘angry talk’ before saying ‘well done’ with a smile.”