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Opinion: Game-changing hat-trick means Wasps finally look forward with confidence

By Paul Smith

Trending on RugbyPass

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Six-and-a-half years after leaving Acton for Coventry, Wasps have a training base of their own.

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The club has today released images taken at a purpose-built new centre based around 15 miles from the Coventry Building Society Arena in the village of Henley-in-Arden.

These include a massive fully-equipped gym, meeting rooms and office space and a kitchen where the club’s high-profile chef Abbi Gaurav will work in restaurant-standard surroundings.

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What sacrifice means to the Black Ferns

The new centre also offers high-quality medical and rehab facilities including hydro therapy.

Outside, Wasps will use two grass rugby pitches plus a floodlit 4G surface which in time could play host to academy or Premiership Shield matches.

This development removes an obstacle which boss Lee Blackett – and Dai Young before him – faced when seeking to attract top-end players to Wasps.

The Premiership club had since 2015 been tenants of local junior club Broadstreet whose modern facilities are some way ahead of those usually found in the fifth tier of English rugby.

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However, the contrast between Broadstreet and the state-of-the-art locations enjoyed by players at Premiership rivals London Irish and Bath remained marked, which was a constant source of discontent.

England star and former Wasps captain James Haskell played an influential role in winning over players and fans when the Black-and-Golds took the decision to move 90 miles north in late 2014.

But prior to leaving the club in 2018 he subsequently became an outspoken critic of owner Derek Richardson who he accused of failing to deliver on training ground promises.

Haskell used his big social media following to express this view, which has subsequently been reiterated in his autobiography.

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The six-and-a-half year hiatus has in part been due to the financial pressures faced by a club which was on the brink of extinction when rescued by Irish insurance millionaire Richardson.

Wasps raised over £30 million to fund the purchase of the Ricoh Arena through the issue of an innovative bond.

However, large ongoing losses – sometimes in excess of £10 million per year – have forced the club to tighten purse strings and pull out of two previous training ground development projects.

Wasps

Wasps training ground.

One of the attractions of the club’s new former council-owned Warwickshire College site is that a long lease rather than freehold purchase has been possible.

On top of a long-term deal which restores Coventry City as co-tenants of their playing arena plus a stadium naming rights deal with the Coventry Building Society this completes a hat-trick of good news items for Wasps.

And with any threat posed by the football club’s long-running legal action also now seemingly dead Wasps can – for the first time since their Heineken Cup winning glory years – look to the future with confidence.

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Opinion: Game-changing hat-trick means Wasps finally look forward with confidence

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