TOP BAR - Fixtures

Wasps won’t underestimate European opponents insists Young

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young insists his side will not be underestimating their European Rugby Champions Cup opponents, despite receiving a kinder pool draw than 12 months ago.

Wasps were drawn in Pool 2 of next season’s European Champions Cup against Connacht, Toulouse and Zebre.

The club finished top of a pool containing Toulon, Leinster and Bath last year and beat Premiership Rugby finalists Exeter Chiefs in the quarter-finals before losing to eventual Champions Saracens in the semi-final.

“It may certainly look like an easier group than last season on paper, but we’re not underestimating this, it’s a tough group and after last season there will be a more expectancy on us to do well, ” said Young.

“We probably exceeded expectations last season, we’ve got to address every game this season like we did last season, with a real fear factor when we knew that if we didn’t play our best rugby we could get beaten.

“Everyone has just got to concentrate on getting out of the group and once you’ve done that, you are into knockout rugby and anything can happen.

“I’m confident if we play our best rugby we can qualify from this group. We know it is going to be tough, but if we can perform like we did last season we should get out.”

Connacht were top seeds for the draw in Switzerland yesterday having won the Pro12 last season, and Wasps will also take on Toulouse – who have lifted the European title a record number of times.

Wasps fans will also travel to Parma to see their team play the only Italian club in the competition in Zebre.

“I think every coach will tell you that there is no easy group and certainly no easy game in the European Champions Cup, ” Young added.

“In one way, when you compare it to our pool last season, this group is probably as good as it gets in Europe, but at the same time that puts a lot more pressure on us.

“If you looked at our group last year, it was well recognised as the toughest pool out there, but that also meant there wasn’t much pressure on us because nobody expected us to get out of it. We did and we enjoyed a really successful run.

“I hope people will give Connacht the respect they deserve as Pro 12 Champions, we certainly will. Zebre are improving and are a very difficult team to beat, particularly away from home.

“Toulouse are steeped in history and are one of the real powerhouses of European Rugby, as the side that has lifted the trophy a record number of times.

“I’m sure our Wasps fans will look forward to the four time European Champions and the Pro 12 Champions both coming to the Ricoh Arena, as well as to welcoming back a familiar face or two now playing at Zebre. ”

The Champions Cup campaign will kick-off for Wasps over the weekend of October 14-16, with the main final taking place this year at the BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Saturday, May 13.

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