Oval Talk

No New Year cheer for big guns

Oval Talk

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London Wasps' Director of Rugby Dai Young

It has hardly been what you can call a happy new year for three of the Premierships' so-called big clubs.

London Wasps' 6-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Worcester was their fifth successive defeat and is the club's worst run of results in a decade. They are now 11th in the table, albeit 10 points ahead of relegation favourites Newcastle Falcons.

Wasps have shown glimpses of brilliance this season against Saracens and Leicester but Dai Young's side is suffering from a lack of experience in the starting XV.

Without the departed Simon Shaw, Steve Thompson and the injured Tom Rees, John Hart, top-try scorer Christian Wade and fly-half Nicky Robinson they have struggled to convert possession and territory play into victories.

Wasps have some promising prospects in the likes of Joe Launchbury and Elliot Daly but they cannot do it on their own just yet.

Wasps' position looks bleak but Young insists this is no time to panic.

"We're in a dogfight with four or five other teams, scrapping for our lives, but we are not in any better or worse position than any of them," he said.

"There is no point panicking. I said when I came here I didn't expect an easy season. There isn't a quick fix."

But perhaps the search for a solution can be found with the way Bath managed to avoid a fifth-successive defeat by thrashing London Irish 30-3.

Bath's scrum has been substantially weakened with Danny Grewcock and Luke Watson both leaving and Lee Mears and Pieter Dixon on the sidelines. But Sir Ian McGeechan managed to tighten things up by putting Francois Louw at number 7 and Simon Taylor at number 8. The scrum was also well directed by Michael Claasens and Stephen Donald and half back.

Wasps and Irish could both learn from Bath's rigid and efficient scrum; it is by no means aesthetically pleasing but it will get results.

Irish's problems spawned from losing their Samoa contingent in the summer and, like Wasps, a penchant for introducing a number of youngsters such as Matt Garvey, Jamie Gibson and Tom Honer. Also factor in their new signings such as Shontayne Hape and Joe Ansbro and Irish have a new-look team which will take a while to gel.

Another trait that the three teams have in common is changing their fly-half this season. Bath have Donald, Wasps signed Nicky Robinson and Ryan Davis while Irish brought Dan Bowden in-field to number 10. And traditionally when any team changes their fly-half it takes a while for them to settle and find the right formula.

Their efforts to find continuity will be inevitably disrupted by the Six Nations. The tournament diminishes the importance of club rugby but that is a debate for another day and an issue which is not going to disappear for the coaches any time soon.

Wasps, Bath and Irish are all in a state of transition but that will not satisfy their fans' appetite for victories and trophies. They need to find a happy balance between good performances and grinding out results. Bath got their tactics spot on for what was a must-win game. Irish and Wasps must do the same in order to avoid relegation otherwise their plans to create their respective new dynasties.

Trying to juggle the development of a squad and the expectations of both fans and owners is no easy task and has tripped up many good coaches in the past.

2012 will not be an easy year for these three clubs and OT doubts everyone will still be in charge come the start of next season such is the demand for success.

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