Paul Gustard refused to take comfort in Harlequins’ resurgence this season as a Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Exeter slipped from their grasp in dramatic circumstances.


Replacement fly-half James Lang narrowly missed a last-gasp penalty from just inside his own half as Wasps edged a thrilling 27-25 victory in the climax to the regular season at the Ricoh Arena.

Had Lang been accurate, Quins would have qualified for the playoffs at Northampton’s expense.

Gustard’s first season as head of rugby has delivered a marked improvement on last season when a 10th-place finish resulted in the removal of John Kingston.

But the former England defence coach insisted challenging for the title was his only goal as he said: “At the end I was anxious, nervous, excited. I didn’t know whether to look or not to look.

“Ultimately, I can be proud of the team because we made some big strides this year. But the over-riding emotion is disappointment because we were so close.

“Entering the game we knew we had to win and we were very confident but seven points from our last seven games in the league has been our downfall.


“We’re a group that works for each other, likes each other and respects each other. If we have that kind of attitude next season, this club will always be all right.”

Appraising his own performance, Gustard added: “I have to improve, I made too many mistakes, so I’ll critically reflect. I’ll get players to give me feedback on how I’ve coached.

“We’ll have a big internal review on Monday. We need to improve. I’m proud of the effort but we have to get better.

“My bar is not set at fifth and I’m gutted we won’t be in the semi-final next week because I want us to be there.”

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Wasps had to survive two fightbacks from Quins to cling on to a win that was insufficient to clinch qualification for the Champions Cup through a top-six finish.

Victory at least gave the departing Joe Simpson, Elliot Daly, Nathan Hughes, Willie Le Roux and Jake Cooper-Woolley a triumphant farewell.

But Director of Rugby Dai Young feels uncertain times lie ahead.

“We’ve got to establish a new leadership group because a lot of our leaders have moved on,” Young said.

“We’ve got to start again pretty much. Squads at some point will break up. It’s natural. The squad I built four or five seasons ago is over now.

“We need to change. We need to be different next year because things haven’t worked as well as we’d have liked this year.

“There are lots of things we need to change and improve on. We know where we are. Everyone deserves a couple of weeks off to recharge the batteries.

“It’s probably been my most challenging season at Wasps. Black clouds have been here since October – the financial situation, training ground, employees leaving, results.

“The buck will stop with me, I understand that. This may be the kick in the guts this club needs.”

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