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Where are they now? The last Wasps team before the collapse

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

It’s still hard to believe that Wasps went out of business just over two months ago, an October 17 training ground meeting confirming that 167 players and staff at the Gallagher Premiership club were being made redundant with immediate effect.

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The feeling was that Wasps were simply too big to fail but the former Heineken Cup and Premiership champions couldn’t meet their financial commitments and kaput they went, sparking a footrace for employment elsewhere in a recruitment market already congested by the reduced Premiership salary cap and by the collapse a few weeks earlier of Worcester, their top-flight colleagues.

Wasps had started the Premiership season believing they would complete the campaign and that their cashflow problems would be solved by refinancing. No fresh bank terms were forthcoming, however, and fears that their future was in jeopardy spiralled out of control when their trip to Exeter was postponed just days after they had been beaten at home by Northampton in a CBS Arena thriller.

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Ten-and-a-half weeks on from that 36-40 October 9 loss, RugbyPass has investigated what has since happened to the matchday 23 that played against the Saints and how they have fared in the bottleneck player recruitment market.

Eight of that Wasps 23 are currently contracted to Premiership clubs, four have moved into the URC, four more to the Top 14, two are free agents, two have gone to Japan, while one has gone to the Pro D2, one to the Championship and another to National One:

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15. Jacob Umaga
Red-carded in the final Wasps match, he was set to play for the Barbarians in the English club tour but that idea was scratched when he was unveiled as a Benetton signing on November 14. Contracted until the end of the 2022/23 season, the 24-year-old has started twice at out-half in his four appearances for the Italian URC franchise.

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14. Paolo Odogwu
A try-scorer versus Northampton, the flamboyant back had his future secured on October 27, ten days after the Wasps collapse, when he was unveiled by Stade Francais as a new signing for the 2022/23 season along with Vincent Koch. The 25-year-old has yet to feature in the Top 14 but he started the Parisian club’s two recent games in the European Challenge Cup at outside centre.

13. Burger Odendaal
The 29-year-old South African was confirmed last April as a new big-name signing from the Lions for the 2022/23 campaign but his Wasps career lasted just four games. Having already spent a season in Japan, he was quickly snapped up by Todd Blackadder to play for the Toshiba Brave Lupus after a link with Sale came to nought.

12. Ryan Mills
The Sale approach for Odendaal didn’t work out for the Manchester club but a short-term deal until the end of the current Premiership season was agreed with Mills on November 4. The 30-year-old debuted off the bench in last weekend’s Champions Cup loss at Toulouse.

11. Josh Bassett
The winger’s ability to find the try line always meant he would be in demand and he was swiftly signed by Harlequins on October 20 through to the end of this current season. Another 30-year-old, he has made five appearances for the Londoners, scoring twice in their entertaining Champions Cup loss at the Durban-based Sharks.

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10. Charlie Atkinson
It was October 31 when the much-coveted 21-year-old, who was a firm favourite of Wasps boss Lee Blackett and the scorer of his team’s final try versus the Saints, was secured by Leicester on what was described as a long-term deal. Having settled in at Tigers with three Premiership appearances off the bench, he was the starting No10 whose goalkicking was crucial in the recent European wins over Ospreys and Clermont.

9. Dan Robson
It was November 15 when the out-of-favour England scrum-half was confirmed as a Pau signing through to the end of the current Top 14 season. The 30-year-old has gone on to make three appearances, debuting against Brive as a sub and making a first start at Castres on December 4.

1. Robin Hislop
Having toughed it out for years on the English Championship circuit, Hislop arrived at Wasps in the summer of 2021 determined to make his stay a long one. However, the 30-year-old Scottish prop is now looking to fulfil that ambition at Saracens, the club he joined on October 26 on a short-term deal as injury cover. Having played three times for Sarries on loan from Doncaster in 2020, the StoneX set-up wasn’t new to him and he started two Premiership games last month for them.

2. Gabriel Oghre
The 24-year-old hooker, who had come through the ranks at Wasps since a 2017/18 Anglo-Welsh Cup debut, was named by Leicester as a new short-term signing on November 21 but he has played just six minutes so far, debuting off the bench at Ospreys.

3. John Ryan
A late call-up from the bench for the ill Koch, who left the club without ever making a debut, the journey that the Irishman has embarked on since Wasps folded has been eventful. Despite agreeing to tour with the Barbarians for their entire four-game November schedule, it was October 25 when the former Ireland tighthead agreed to a three-month deal with Munster, his former club who lately wanted to extend that contract through to the end of this season. The 34-year-old Ryan, though, has instead secured a 2023 Super Rugby Pacific move to the New Zealand-based Chiefs.

4. Joe Launchbury
The long-serving England lock hasn’t played since the loss to Northampton, but the 31-year-old has plenty of rugby lined up. His post-Wasps career will start with a season in Japan with Toyota Verblitz and he will then link up with Harlequins back in the Premiership for the 2023/24 season amid hopes of getting back into the England Test squad now that Eddie Jones has exited.

5. Kiran McDonald
Having spent his entire professional career at Glasgow, the lock had come south of the border in the off-season looking to experience what the Premiership has to offer. His stay, though, amounted to just four starts and he was soon snapped up by Munster on October 28 on a three-month injury cover deal. He debuted for the Irish province in their win over South Africa XV in Cork and then linked up with the Barbarians for their English club tour.

6. Ben Morris
Another late matchday change, Morris got to briefly play instead of Tom Willis who is now starring with Bordeaux in the Top 14. The 31-year-old back-rower was injured just 14 minutes into that match versus Saints but that didn’t prevent him from signing a deal that took him to Birmingham Moseley in National One along with Wasps coach Ashley Johnson. He also featured for the Barbarians versus Northampton.

7. Jack Willis
The soon-to-be 26-year-old arguably found himself in the trickiest position as he was left trying to win England selection without being attached to a club. He featured twice off the Test bench but his omission for the series finale versus South Africa coincided with his November 24 signing by Toulouse through to the end of the current season. Has made three appearances and was an early December Top 14 scorer against Perpignan, the club that Brad Shields signed for.

8. Nizaam Carr
The ex-Springboks back-rower wasn’t left on the shelf for long as the Bulls announced the 31-year-old’s return to Pretoria on November 1. He has since been busy, making four appearances in the URC and in Europe.

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Replacements:
16. Dan Frost
The 25-year-old was another whose services were quickly snapped up, the hooker getting announced as an Exeter signing on October 27 on a short-term injury dispensation deal. He has since appeared three times off the Premiership and European bench.

17. Rodrigo Martinez
The 24-year-old Argentine’s appearance off the bench against Northampton was just his fourth match for Wasps after joining in December last year from Olimpia, the Super Liga Americana de Rugby side. The loosehead is currently a free agent.

18. Biyi Alo
It was October 20 when the 28-year-old tighthead became a Racing 92 signing for the remainder of this season. It wasn’t until the start of December that he debuted versus Toulon in the Top 14, action followed by a start versus Harlequins last Sunday in Europe.

19. Tim Cardall
The soon-to-be 26-year-old lock is still a free agent despite rumours that he was a potential Western Force signing for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.

20. Kieran Curran
The 22-year-old was playing in just his third-ever Premiership game when introduced as a second-half sub at the CBS Arena. Received the best Christmas present when signing a December 22 deal with Championship side Bedford through to the end of the 2022/23 season.

21. Will Porter
The scrum-half was the starting No9 in the opening home match of the season versus Bristol and his efforts weren’t forgotten by the visiting Pat Lam as the Bears boss signed the 24-year-old as injury cover on October 24. Has played six times for his new club, five as a starter.

22. Will Haydon-Wood
The 22-year-old summer signing from Newcastle put his Wasps redundancy behind him by joining French Pro D2 strugglers Massy on November 24 through to the end of this season.

23. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso
It was November 9 when Feyi-Waboso became one of three Wasps academy talents – Alfie Bell and Greg Fisilau were the other two – signed by Exeter and he was quickly included on their Premiership bench for the visit of London Irish.

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