Wasps go back on road for Pilkington

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The Independent Online
Wasps could afford a certain smugness at being the only side in yesterday's either/or Pilkington Cup quarter-final draw at Twickenham who knew for sure they were in the last eight, but this was wiped from their faces when they were presented with yet another away tie.

On 24 February, last season's beaten finalists must visit the winners of the Nottingham-Gloucester tie postponed with six others last Saturday.

With the Cup taking precedence over the league, these matches will cause wholesale First Division postponements by going ahead on 10 February when the Second, Third and Fourth will also be affected. If league position means anything, Wasps can expect to be at Kingsholm.

Wasps' fifth-round tie at Winnington Park, a 57-0 reward for the tortuous six hours it took them to reach Cheshire from London last Friday, was the only one completed to schedule. This made it 800 miles of cup travelling already this season to add to the 1,600 of last season while they were en route to meet Bath at Twickenham.

Indeed, it is nearly three years since Wasps were last favoured with a home draw. Since that semi-final defeat by Harlequins they have ventured as far west as Exeter and as far north as Newcastle, where Quins still have to win to qualify for the doubtful pleasure of a quarter-final at Saracens or, more likely, Leicester.

Bath, the holders, will have a ferocious derby at Bristol if the West Country giants win at Wakefield and Bedford respectively.

The pursuit of anglophile foreigners willing to earn themselves some sterling picked up yesterday when Olivier Roumat, the outstanding French lock who reached the Currie Cup final with Natal during the South African season, was linked with Wasps where his compatriot Philippe Sella may also end up.

PILKINGTON CUP Quarter-finals: Leeds or London Irish v West Hartlepool or Coventry; Nottingham or Gloucester v Wasps; Leicester or Saracens v Newcastle or Harlequins; Bedford or Bristol v Wakefield or Bath. (Ties to be played on 24 February).