James Haskell attends royal wedding instead of supporting Wasps in Premiership semi-final to infuriate fans

The England international will miss what proved to be his final match for Wasps

Jack de Menezes
Saturday 19 May 2018 15:20
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Wasps and England rugby player James Haskell missed his final game with Wasps on Saturday after attending the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, just hours before his teammates took on Saracens for a place in the Premiership final.

In what was a surprising sight, Haskell arrived at St George’s Chapel in Windsor alongside fiancée Chloe Madeley – daughter of celebrity television couple Richard and Judy – for the wedding ceremony after being invited by Ms Markle and the prince, who is the patron of the Rugby Football Union.

The surprise came in that Haskell’s Wasps teammates were at the same time travelling to Allianz Park for their Premiership semi-final against Saracens, leading to questions about why he was not there to support the club, having been ruled out of the match with a foot injury on Friday.

James Haskell arrives at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle alongside fiancée Chloe Madeley

Of course, the chance to attend a royal wedding does not come around every day, but given that Haskell will leave Wasps, his childhood club, at the end of the season, it did raise questions about his support from the club’s fans.

Wasps went on to suffer a 57-33 defeat to end their season in disappointment, although director of rugby Dai Young confirmed that Haskell had attended the ceremony with his blessing.

Haskell has been criticised by Wasps fans who believe he should be supporting his teammates

"I think Lawrence wanted an invite himself! It was my decision," Young said. "James has a nasty foot injury and is probably another couple of weeks away from doing anything. The royal wedding is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"I don't think he's done anything wrong. He's supported the players as much as he can and he shouldn't be criticised too much."

Haskell’s absence was also criticised by former England internationals Austin Healy and Lawrence Dallaglio, who famously won five Premiership titles with Wasps and remains on the club’s board.

“It would be poor form really, wouldn’t it?,” Dallaglio said on BT Sport. “He should be here with his teammates. I’m sure Harry wouldn’t mind, he loves his rugby anyway.”

Healy added: “Injury or not, he should be here. I can’t understand that.”

Asked by presenter Craig Doyle if he was serious, Healy added: “Oh absolutely. At Leicester, when you know it’s your last season and you played their or if Northampton are in the semi-finals and you were injured, you would still be here. You would want to be in the changing room, you would want to be here.”

With the 33-year-old due to join Northampton Saints next season after a five-year stint with Wasps – his second since returning to the club in 2013 after time abroad – Wasps had to beat Saracens in order for Haskell to have a chance of featuring in one final match for the club in the form of next weekend’s Premiership final.

Having been given an emotional farewell from the Wasps supporters after his final game at the Ricoh Arena three weeks ago, fans are now questioning where his loyalties really lie.

"So @WaspsRugby @jameshaskell is ‘injured’ - what a joke - he’s at the royal wedding..... this could have been his last time in a Wasps shirt... if we win today I don’t want to see him at Twickenham - no loyalty,” one fan by the name of Lorna wrote on Twitter.

Another added: “Pretty disgraceful really...he could have sat and cheered his team mates on if he really is injured!”

With the wedding service beginning at midday and not finishing until 13:00, Haskell was unable to make the trip across London to Allianz Park in order to watch the match and support his teammates, bringing an end to his career at Wasps in a rather sour way.

Haskell was not the only guest attending the wedding of rugby fame, with 2003 Rugby World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson and Sir Clive Wilkinson also seen arriving alongside other sporting figures such as David Beckham and Serena Williams. Mike Tindall, the former England captain, was also in attendance, having married Zara Phillips in July 2011.

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