Young: No room for error
Wasps boss Dai Young accepts the Aviva Premiership's top clubs need perfect-storm circumstances to pull off big European victories over France's cash-rich elite.
Wasps slipped out of the Champions Cup with a 32-18 quarter-final defeat at double European title-holders Toulon on Sunday, completing a miserable last-eight showing for English clubs.
Saracens' last-gasp 12-11 victory over Racing Metro ensured the north London club are England's sole semi-final representative in Europe for the third season running.
Premiership champions and runaway leaders Northampton were hammered 37-5 at Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, as the gap between the French and the English was laid bare.
Wasps hassled and harried two-time European title-holders Toulon on Sunday, Will Helu's late brace causing Stade Mayol mayhem, but Bernard Laporte's men eased home.
Former Wales prop Young still believes English clubs can compete for European glory - but only on days when absolutely everything goes to plan.
"The top four teams consistently over the last three or four seasons are up there," said Young.
"But you know you've got to catch them on a day when they are having problems, because there are world-class players across the board.
"There's no room for error against these top French teams.
"Their weakest players tend to have only 25 caps as opposed to 45.
"So they have very few weaknesses right across the board and I think when Leigh Halfpenny had his bump on the head and he was ruled out, it left us only five international full-backs to look at really!
"It's certainly a step up when you know what you're coming up against.
"Teams in the Premiership must arrive at these games playing their best team.
"There's no way we can match their squads with the salary cap, and two or three injuries will obviously hurt us a lot more than it will for Racing, Clermont and Toulon."
Toulon will now take on Leinster at Marseille's Stade Velodrome on Sunday, April 19, with the Irish province having dislodged Bath.
Saracens once again secured the status of last English club standing, thanks to Marcelo Bosch's last-gasp 55-metre penalty denied Racing in Paris.
Mark McCall's men lined up a last-four battle with Clermont in St Etienne after their gritty triumph at Racing.
Argentina centre Bosch stepped up to fire the long-range effort into a strong head-wind, and was as relieved as he was elated to earn his team-mates' plaudits.
"With kicks like this you're either the hero of the day or the bad guy, so I'm happy that it went my way. I just stayed relaxed and fortunately it went through the posts," said Bosch.
"Sometimes they ask me if I'm keen to take the long-range kicks and because of the wind it was not a good distance for the other kickers. I said 'why not? I can take it' and the rest is history."