Eastwood praises owner Richardson
Owner Derek Richardson's "vision and courage" to move Wasps to Coventry can spur the club back to "the forefront of European rugby", according to chief executive Nick Eastwood.
Irish businessman Richardson has been a private figure since his April 2013 takeover saved Wasps from bankruptcy, preferring to dodge the limelight despite his rescue act.
Richardson founded Ireland's first online insurance broker, 123.ie, and was reported to have received almost £30million in the 2010 sale to Royal Sun Alliance.
The Dublin native has helped revive Wasps' fortunes, with the club hosting Leinster at their new Ricoh Arena home in Saturday's pivotal Champions Cup clash.
Chief executive Eastwood believes Richardson's stewardship can now help restore the two-time Heineken Cup winners to their "rightful place" at the pinnacle of European rugby.
"He's a very modest, private individual, very engaging and personable in person but doesn't want to attract a huge amount of attention," Eastwood told Press Association Sport of Richardson.
"Clearly he had a real vision for the club, wanted to return the club to its rightful place in the forefront of domestic and European rugby.
"He's very much had the view that rugby's a fairly traditional sport, but where we were as a club we needed to break the mould somewhat.
"If you keep doing the same things you keep getting the same results, and obviously the club was in significant financial issues, so to change that around we had to do something pretty radical.
"We didn't move to Coventry because of that, but once we'd evaluated all the options this became head and shoulders above all else as the best possible option for the club.
"And Derek had the vision and the courage to make the best decision on behalf of the club."
Wasps launched their move to Coventry from London in December with a record Premiership crowd for their clash with London Irish.
A crowd nearing 25,000 is expected to flock to the stadium for Leinster's visit, with Champions Cup quarter-final qualification on the line.
Wasps are closing in on securing a site for a new Coventry training ground the club hopes to have operational by 2016.
Eastwood believes London-based Richardson has always viewed Wasps as much an engaging business challenge as a labour of love.
While Wasps' committed figurehead may have a Dublin background, Eastwood said there will be no split loyalties this weekend.
"It's hearts as much as minds, it's obviously a huge emotional love of rugby, and the Wasps club," said Eastwood.
"And there's a challenge there, a business challenge too, in doing something difficult.
"The nature of men of this ilk, extraordinary people in their own right, they see opportunity where everyone else sees problems.
"They see challenges as obstacles to be knocked over and not get in the way.
"And they find something they can't resist.
"I keep joking he's going to have a double-sided tie with black and gold stripes on one side and blue on the other and he'll flip it over depending on the result.
"He's through and through Wasps now.
"Put it another way, we were all cheering on Castres last weekend!
"Native allegiances have been overtaken by club loyalty, so there won't be any mixed feelings."
Rugby director Dai Young famously had to dig into his own pocket for medical supplies at the peak of Wasps' financial woes, as staff feared for their next paycheques.
Eastwood vowed the former Wales prop can now finally focus solely on rugby matters.
"We're probably not even at the end of the beginning; I suppose that will be the end of the season," said Eastwood.
"And that's probably when the hard work really starts.
"Dai's been an immensely important part of the club for the last two or three years, he's stuck through it when times were difficult.
"And now he can probably concentrate pretty much exclusively on the rugby and get us to where we all want to be which is back competing for silverware."