Dai Young insists the journey Wasps are on is not over yet, after he claimed the prestigious Ricoh Director of Rugby of the Season prize at the Aviva Premiership Rugby awards on Wednesday.
Coventry outfit Wasps were the big winners of the night, with Christian Wade earning the Top Try Scorer billing and Jimmy Gopperth scooping a hat-trick of awards – including the Aviva Premiership Rugby Player of the Season.
Young, 49, has led Wasps since 2011 and has seen the club through the most challenging of periods – narrowly avoiding relegation in the 2011-12 season while the club was in financial turmoil.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) May 17, 2017
And as things have turned around off the pitch, Young has transformed Wasps into the powerhouses Aviva Premiership Rugby fans know today, with the side finishing top of the league standings for the first time in 20 years this season.
“I’ve got to be honest, if this was an individual award I would be pretty embarrassed given all that the other directors of rugby have done – particularly Mark McCall at Saracens,” said Young.
“But we know it’s not an individual award. The directors of rugby are the first to say that this is an award that’s about what everyone at the club has achieved.
“We’ve been on a bit of a journey of course, but while everyone has worked their socks off we’re not at the end of the journey just yet. This is a reward for all the hard work everyone has put in.
“Finishing top of the pile is a great achievement, but unfortunately you don’t get anything for that – we set out to be in the top six and then the top four, and to finish top is something that the group hadn’t done before.
“We’re really proud of our history and tradition, but we want to make our own history and get people talking about the players we’ve got now rather than the sides that came before us.”
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) May 18, 2017
Young remains a direct coach, and admits he still likes to get his hands dirty during scrum practice – even if the body is no longer as willing as it used to be.
He joked: “You’ve got to show them who’s boss on occasion! But I’m getting a bit older now so where I used to be good for ten minutes, it’s now five minutes or less.
“They’re a great bunch of boys I’ve got, and I love to get out there with them. That’s where I want to be and what I enjoy, but there’s a lot of people at the club who deserve credit too.”
Wasps now have a home semi-final ahead of them this weekend, with old rivals Leicester Tigers in town to try and overcome Young’s charges – and over 30,000 fans at a packed-out Ricoh Arena.
Tigers and Wasps remain two behemoths of the English game, but despite both sides enjoying mixed fortunes in recent seasons, Young believes Saturday’s semi-final clash will be a battle for the ages.
“We’ve now hopefully got two massive games in front of us,” he said. “We can only look at one game at a time, and certainly the Tigers will want to come and spoil the party on Saturday.
“We’re know they’re capable of it, but it’s up to us to get our best game prepared. Wasps and Leicester have had a huge rivalry over the years, and you have to applaud their consistency at this level.
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) May 18, 2017
“We’ve fallen away a bit in recent years compared to them, but we’re getting back there now, and we’ve got such a fantastic welcome having moved to the Coventry area.
“Now we are their local rivals as well, and we’ve really got a sense of that. It’s going to be a great occasion and we know that if we don’t play to the best of our abilities, we’ll lose as they’re a quality team.”
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