Have you ever seen a Winter wasp? They usually hang around in the warm areas of your house after the sun begins to fade and the frost starts appearing.
A favourite hiding spot is inside the folds in the curtains. Winter wasps tend to be lethargic, slow and somewhat frustrating (as, by winter, many wasp detractors are celebrating the demise of their little buzzing nemesis). However, despite this apparent lethargy, these pesky critters still pack a punch with a sting that will have even the hardiest amongst us reach for the vinegar.
Why, you might ask have you just spent the best part of a minute reading a paragraph about Winter wasps? Well, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the lifecycle that the current set of Guinness Premiership Wasps are going through at the moment. An inconsistent adversary who, on their day can beat the best, but, most days are left floudering in the face of a more dynamic opponent.
Wasps are currently lying 9th in the Guinness Premiership, only 5 points adrift of bottom club Bristol – and are the (ahem) reigning champions. Their woeful position in the league began on day 1, with a defeat at the hands of London Irish as part of the Twickenham double header. But, that was a blip, with all commentators and pundits (including the hardly-ever-wrong Stuart Barnes) predicting a meteoric return to winning ways guided by their shining light, Shaun Edwards. However, a very winnable brace of games against Worcester and Northampton went pear shaped for Wasps as the hunger of their stellar cast seemed lacking.
A win against Leicester – not exactly an easy feat – was followed up by 3 league defeats in a row, before they eventually beat fellow strugglers Newcastle towards the end of November. In summation, their league campaign has been one to forget, with excuses coming left, right and centre.
However, remember that story about the Winter wasps, and that they still pack a punch? Well, Wasps have replicated this trait in the cup competitions. A loss to Gloucester in the EDF Energy cup was followed up by wins against Newcastle and Newport Gwent Dragons (not exactly powerhouses – apologies Newcastle and Dragons’ fans – but a win is a win), before a well-fought win over French side Castres in the Heineken Cup. They were schooled by Leinster at the RDS, but, they bounced back with a convincing win over Edinburgh at the weekend, following the return of their England heroes (?).
Wasps are a winning side – they’ve certainly done their utmost to buck that trend this season, but, ultimately, they are a club that knows how to win a tie in a cup competition or in a knock out scenario. They are a team that can rouse themselves for the big occasion.
However, is the league big enough for them anymore? We all know that Wasps start slow, but this is ridiculous, and, realistically, Wasps don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the play-offs. But who would bet against them sneaking into the knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup…?
All I’m saying is, be careful when you’re opening your curtains tomorrow morning…a drowsy Winter Wasp can suddenly wake up, and when it does, it stings.
By John White