Wasps celebrated their Centenary Year by gracing the playing fields of Rugby School, where William Webb Ellis originally picked the ball up and ran in 1823, thereby creating the early origins of Rugby Football. The team played two games on the Close against the famous Barbarians and local London rivals Harlequins.
The 1970s were a pretty rough period in terms of the on-field activities of the team until the arrival in 1979 of two world-class players. Mark Taylor (capped 10 times for New Zealand) and Roger Uttley (British Lion, 23 England caps, and England Grand Slam coach) transformed the fortunes of the team producing a veritable flood of international honours in the Eighties.
Both Maurice Colclough and former Director of Rugby, Nigel Melville represented the British Lions and England in this period, their talents being supplemented in the formidable form of Geoff Richards (Australia), and England's Nick Stringer (5 caps) and Huw Davies (21 caps).
In the two-year period between 1983 and 1985 no less than nine Wasps players represented England - Maurice Colclough, Nick Stringer, Huw Davies, Nigel Melville, Andy Dun, Rob Lozowski, Mark Bailey, Simon Smith and Paul Rendall. Later in the decade, the Club was again represented heavily internationally with Rob Andrew, Kevin Simms, Fran Clough, Jeff Probyn, Dean Ryan, Chris Oti and Steve Bates all playing for England.
England representation reached its peak in May 1989 when Rob Andrew captained the full international side against Romania, David Pegler captained the England B side against Spain and Steve Pilgrim captained the under 21 team again against Romania. For the record, all the teams won on the day.
Not surprisingly, Wasps were regular visitors to Twickenham in this period. They were John Player Cup (now the Pilkington Cup) finalists in 1986 and 1987, unfortunately losing both matches to Bath in exciting, well-contested battles. The period also saw the advent of the League system (1988) which has since seen Wasps runners-up twice.
The 1990s began in style with Wasps being crowned as English National Champions, before going on to meet French National Champions, Racing Club de France, in the Courage Challenge Cup. In this forerunner to the current European Cup, Wasps ran out eventual winners 23-13, clinching their only major European honours.