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Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis

As Wayne Pivac teeters on the edge of finding new gainful employment after a series of disappointing results, the wider-lens story tells of dysfunction and frustration

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Wasps explain why Crossdale hasn't played Premiership since January

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Wasps boss Lee Blackett has explained why England prospect Ali Crossdale hasn’t featured in his team’s Gallagher Premiership selection plans since last January’s seismic home win over league leaders Leicester. That was the 24-year-old’s tenth appearance – and his seventh start at full-back – in the dozen top-flight games until that point.

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However, he has been marked absent from the Wasps teamsheet in the ten Premiership matches they have played since then. Crossdale did start in the January European defeat at Munster but his only other look-in has come in the low key Premiership Cup where he made two March appearances.   

Blackett has now explained the absence of Crossdale, a player recruited from Saracens last summer with high hopes of quickly accelerating his game at Wasps. “It’s just waiting at the moment for his opportunities,” said the director of rugby at his media briefing ahead of this weekend’s Challenge Cup quarter-final away to Edinburgh.  

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“He has had some Premiership Cup. I think every time Ali has got himself in position he has then gone and picked up a bit of a niggle and that is probably how his season has gone. But look, one thing that I can assure you, he is putting his hand up every week, he is really close to selection, he is training really well so I know his opportunity will be around the corner.” 

It was in January, amid the build-up to the derby encounter in Coventry with Leicester, when Blackett sang the praises of Crossdale regarding the initial impact he made at Wasps. “He has been good, he looks dangerous,” said the Wasps boss to RugbyPass at the time. “It is exactly what we thought. We knew we had signed someone talented.

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“He had been in training with England. He is just settling into the 15 jersey having really only played on the wing in terms of senior rugby and we are trying to get him into there – he is only going to get better and better. He talks really well. He is another one that has probably been injured a fair bit but without having loads of games behind him, he is actually quite a knowledgable guy. We’re happy. The best thing about Ali is there is plenty more in him, he is going to get better and better for us. I don’t think we have seen anywhere near the finished product yet.”

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Crossdale made a November 2017 debut for Saracens in the Anglo-Welsh Cup but his subsequent appearances for the Londoners were fleeting as he only ever played in four Premiership matches for the club while he also had a loan spell at second-tier Bedford.

Even after getting called up by Eddie Jones to England training in October 2020 and then being named as a 2021 Six Nations standby player, he continued to be sparingly used at Saracens despite scoring two tries versus Ampthill in his sole Championship campaign selection last term by Mark McCall.

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RUGBYPASS+ Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis Welsh rugby enveloped in its latest existential crisis
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