Fixtures - Top Bar

Ashley Johnson: "It’s the biggest game I have ever played at Wasps"

Ashley Johnson is in his fourth year at Wasps and in that time has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the club’s fortunes – both on and off the field.

This weekend’s European Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens shows just how far the club have come and the former Springbok admits it will be the biggest game in his time in Black and Gold.

Hit by injuries and enforced retirements, Dai Young’s side only narrowly avoided relegation from Aviva Premiership Rugby in the 2011/12 season but have shown gradual improvement every year since.

Last year they returned to Europe’s top table and this year finished first in a tough Pool that included defending champions RC Toulon, Leinster and Bath Rugby.

The last English team to win Europe’s premier competition was Wasps – back in 2007 – but since then the club’s fans have run the full gamut of emotions.

And Johnson admits they will use all of that as inspiration when they take on Saracens this weekend.

“It’s the biggest game I have ever played at the club,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, but we don’t want it to stop here – we want to go on to bigger and better things – we want to win some silverware, but we know the challenge ahead of us to achieve that.

“This has been a great journey for the club, and to have been here a few years now and witness how it has evolved is fantastic.

“Both on the pitch and off it, we have come a very long way.

“Most of the guys here have been involved in a lot of this journey as well which is great. It is a reward for all the effort that everyone has been putting in.”

Jimmy Gopperth’s last-gasp conversion kept the European dream alive for Wasps as they downed Exeter Chiefs in dramatic style in the quarter-finals earlier this month.

Young’s in-form side have now only lost one of their last 13 games in all competitions and have set up both a European and then an Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-final in the coming weeks.

But this week it is all about Europe and Johnson is desperate to send the fans home happy at the Madejski Stadium this weekend. 

“At the end of the day we need to just enjoy it, not many players get to play in European semi finals,” he added. 

“We are really excited – of course there will be a bit of nerves as the weekend gets closer but nerves are good – we can prepare as best we can.

“And it will come down to who takes their chances best over the 80 – or probably actually – 85 minutes.

“We were ninth in the league at one point this season – and everyone has put in the hard work – not just the players but the coaches and everyone else behind the scenes. 

“And now we have an opportunity to achieve something special. The first target was the top six and getting out of our group but we have two semi-finals ahead of us.

“But even on this run – there have been a few performances that were not up to standard – everything we have achieved so far counts for nothing if we cannot be at our best against Saracens this weekend.” 

Watch England's finest at the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on 28 May from only £30 for adults & £15 for children. Click here for tickets

Latest News

Ex-England star Susie Appleby excited to lead Gloucester-Hartpury in inaugural Women’s Super Rugby campaign

Former England international Susie Appleby believes it’s an exciting time for women’s rugby as she issues a rallying cry to…

Wasps confirm 2017/18 pre-season schedule

Wasps have today confirmed their 2017/18 pre-season schedule, which will see them face Connacht Rugby and Ulster Rugby, as well…

Wasps celebrate

Quartet sign Academy contracts with Bath Rugby

Bath Rugby is delighted to confirm that Rhys Davies, Wil Partington, Miles Reid, and Kieran Verden have all signed long-term…

Todd Blackadder

Clare Daniels hoping to inspire the next generation of female rugby referees

The first female official in Aviva Premiership Rugby history, Clare Daniels, has urged girls and women to take up officiating…

Luke McLean enthused by London Irish move

Luke McLean is looking to reignite his international career under Italy Head Coach Conor O’Shea following his summer move to…

All Black Francis Saili joins Harlequins

Harlequins is excited to confirm today (Wednesday 21st June) that All Black Francis Saili has joined the Club. Commenting on…

Francis Saili

Bath Rugby sign Phillips from Bristol Rugby

Bath Rugby is pleased to announce the signing of James Phillips, who has joined the Club from Bristol Rugby until…

JamesPhillips1

Nowell gets two tries as Lions see off Chiefs in Hamilton

Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell returned to his sparkling best with two tries for the British & Irish Lions in their…

Nalaga a big coup for Irish says international teammate Tikoirotuma

Explosive wing Napolioni Nalaga can be an big hit in every sense of the word during next season's Aviva Premiership…

Masi and Everard return to Wasps alongside new Academy Manager Jonathan Pendlebury

Wasps are pleased to announce a new Academy structure ahead of the 2017/18 season. The new set-up sees former Yorkshire…

The new Wasps academy coaches

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Sale Sharks have announced the latest in a wave of world class signings, as they confirm Australian International James O’Connor…

Sale Sharks announce signing of Australia international James O’Connor

Lions prepared for final warm-up before All Blacks Test

After a crucial victory against the Maori All Blacks, the British & Irish Lions are just a single match away…

Wasps sign Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley

Wasps today confirm the signing of props Paul Doran-Jones and David Langley, while loosehead Tom Bristow is confirmed as leaving…

Paul Doran-Jones

Venter integral to Du Plessis opting to join London Irish

Petrus Du Plessis says Brendan Venter was a key factor in his decision to move to London Irish this summer.…

Fight and spirit shone through despite defeat, says England U20 coach Vass

Head coach Ian Vass hailed his England U20 side’s fight and spirit after they were beaten in the World Rugby…

Match Report: England U20s 17 New Zealand U20s 64

New Zealand ran in ten tries as they overpowered England in the final of the World Rugby Under 20s championship…

Aviva Premiership Rugby stars see home nations complete clean sweep

It’s been a busy weekend of international rugby and there were plenty of stand-out performances from a whole host of…

Supreme England secure series win in Argentina

Will Collier scored the winning try as England secured a hard-fought 2-0 series win against Argentina in another enthralling Test match.…

England name team for World Rugby U20 Championship final

England have named their team for the World Rugby U20 Championship final against New Zealand on Sunday (kick-off 3pm BST,…