Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Young happy to avoid gamble

Wasps boss Dai Young, pictured, is backing his side to secure a European play-off

Dai Young is relieved the toss of a coin will not stand between Wasps and qualification for the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup.

Wasps stand in pole position to claim seventh place in the Aviva Premiership and secure an Anglo-French play-off for the final berth in next season's replacement for the Heineken Cup.

The Adams Park side's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final defeat to Bath frees up their calendar for a two-legged play-off against the side that finishes seventh in the French Top 14.

Had Wasps reached the Amlin final, the European play-off would have been cut to one game, with home advantage decided by the flip of a coin.

Admitting the play-off is now Wasps' to lose, Young said his side can now focus on seeing off Newcastle and Northampton rather than a lucky call.

"We thought any chance of us playing in Europe had gone pretty much a month to six weeks ago, but with the seventh spot, that gives us another opportunity to have a real crack at it," said Young, recalling Wasps' four-straight league defeats across February and March.

"It's pretty much in our hands now really, so we've got ourselves to blame if we don't reach seventh and have a crack at one of the French teams.

"In cricket (there is) a huge emphasis on the toss, and that would have been a massive toss.

"That's my understanding that it would have been the toss of a coin for who would get home advantage in a one-off game.

"I always laugh about how much is made in cricket of the toss, but that certainly would have been a massive coin toss for us really.

"I suppose what other way would they do it?

"It seemed a hell of a thing for me that a competition like that would be decided in that way, but I don't really see any other solution.

"First and foremost we've got to get there, but it's in our hands right now; we've got to back ourselves to get there.

"If we do get there as a two-legger it's more big games for the club.

"And if we were to warrant European qualification we'd be delighted, because that's probably a year ahead of where we'd expected.

"Now it's within grabbing distance you want to make sure you do grab it, though.

"It hasn't been totally documented because they were just waiting to see what would happen, because I think they would have wanted to avoid it.

"But certainly the rugby calendar wouldn't allow a two-legged affair if we'd got to the Amlin final.

"We all know going to France is very difficult and I'm sure the French team would be hugely confident playing us at home, and a little less so playing us away."

Wasps lost out 24-18 to Bath at Adams Park on Sunday, the West Country men heading into the Amlin final.

Rugby director Young's side host Newcastle in Wycombe on Saturday, keen to maintain their grip on seventh with that European play-off in mind.

Keen to stress that European battle is not yet secured, Young admitted any potential French opponent will offer huge threats across a two-leg contest.

"We lost by six and gave Bath seven, so we're kicking ourselves a little bit, but I do think they had a bit more than us on the day, to be totally honest with you," said Young.

"It still hurts a little bit, but we have to move on.

"It's a different competition this weekend and I'm hoping we can take a bit of the hurt and disappointment of not getting to a final and put it into this game against Newcastle really.

"If we can win this game it puts us in a strong position for the play-off, and if we can win the game with a bonus point it would put us in a commanding position.

"So we know what's at stake and how important it is.

"I don't think there would be an easy team to face in a play-off: I think you've got Bordeaux, Toulouse and Stade Francais in the mix at the minute.

"So any of those would be a huge challenge."

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