Match Reaction: Dai Young post Toulon

Asked how he felt following the quarter-final defeat to defending champions, Toulon, Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said:

“There are a lot of mixed emotions. I’m obviously really proud of the players’ effort and commitment, but also a little frustrated as well. I think we gave them too much respect during the first half. We snatched at a few balls and turned over a lot of opportunities and we gave away silly penalties. We didn’t seem to trust our defence or attack, which allowed them to build a strong lead. Today was a lot about us making mistakes, which allowed them to take control of the game.

“I’m really proud of the effort and the way we came back in the second half. Hopefully it will build a lot of confidence, because we know now that we can mix it with the best teams in Europe.”

When Will Helu crossed for his second try, it became a 7-point game and Young was asked whether he felt Wasps might sneak the win:

“Yes, I felt we were certainly building in confidence. In the first half, we didn’t really get inside their 22, but looking from where we were up in the skies, we could see that one pass and we were in open space - we were one pass away from cracking them three or four times in the first half.

“We felt, if we could go a little bit deeper, if we could be a little bit more accurate and keep the ball in hand, then we could cause them problems. It wasn’t quite enough in the end, but we will have learnt a hell of a lot from that experience. 

Questioned whether he felt Ali Williams should have been on the pitch to score Toulon’s final try, after a blatant tug of Elliot Daly’s shirt during a Wasps attack, Young responded.

“How that wasn’t a yellow card is beggar’s belief really and, as you said, he then popped up to score the try, so it does rub your nose in it a little.

“If we had scored then we would have had a bit more time to build a little more pressure on them. It’s disappointing, but I don’t want it to sound like sour grapes really because I felt they just had enough to win that game today. They had a little bit too much for us but it certainly would have been an interesting 10 minutes if they’d gone down to 14 men, that’s for sure.” 

Asked for his assessment of Joe Simpson’s sensational performance and whether he felt he had done enough to force his way into England’s Rugby World Cup squad, Young replied:

“Well, I’m biased and I thought he should have been in the squad anyway. He’s been very unlucky not to feature in the squad. Obviously we know there are quality scrum halves right across the board and it’s not up to me to comment on that.

“However, from my point of view, he’s been consistently outstanding both in attack and defence and his kicking game has been top drawer as well. He’s also mastered the game management side. Performances like today have to have Stuart thinking that he’s got to be somewhere near it. I’ve said it a number of times but I wouldn’t swap him for any other nine in the league.

“The same goes for Elliot Daly. I’m not sure what more some of our players have got to do really. As a club we need to contribute to that as well and if we can be in the top four regularly, it will push our players that little bit further.

“Elliot has gone from strength to strength again this season. His defence was outstanding again today and at the end of the day you have to go and win games, and put the ball in Elliot’s hands and things happen. He has the ability to get on the outside of people, to really cut defences and to feed his winger. We are thrilled with how he’s playing.

“He caused an international centre combination real problems today. He has the ability to beat people and that’s a rare commodity. Week after week he causes teams problems and if England are going to go out and win the World Cup, he’s the type of player you’ve got to have in the team, so I’d certainly like to think he’s somewhere near it.”

Young was also keen to praise the support the players and club had received out in Toulon from over a thousand travelling Wasps fans. 

“I’d like to make a special mention of our Wasps supporters today and thank them for the support they have show the squad and the commitment they made to travel out to get behind us here in Toulon.

“It’s been a lean few years for them - we haven’t been at Europe’s top table for a number of seasons, so hopefully they’ve enjoyed themselves out here and it has whetted their appetites a little. The aim is to get back into Europe to give them another great occasion next year.

“Top six has always been our focus this season for European qualification, so now we’ve got to roll up our sleeves, get on with the job and make sure we finish in that top six.”