Plaudits were in no short supply for Wasps head coach Lee Blackett last season after guiding his side to the Premiership final.
A return of 12 wins from 14 games defied the odds to deliver the Black and Golds to a Twickenham final before coming just short against an Exeter Chiefs side the secured a league and Heineken Champions Cup double.
On the eve of the 2020/21 season, Blackett, along with his coaches Matt Everard, Ian Costello, Martin Gleeson and Richard Blaze all agreed contract extensions. There was no limelight hogging for 37-year-old Blackett, whom many tipped for the Premiership’s top coach award which ultimately went to Exeter director of rugby, Rob Baxter.
“We come as a whole and that’s why we announced it that way as well,” said Blackett. “If I am being honest , it’s a bit cringeworthy when you’re seeing plaudits how we turned things around. We worked so hard as a team to get where we did last year, I think the main message our side is, delighted, the majority of the squad is very similar in terms of length of time and we’re in it together type of mentality.”
Blackett was part of the previous regime under former director of rugby Dai Young, whose departure in February brought to an end his near-nine year association with the club.
Plagued by injuries and stay player departures, Wasps transition from a dismal 2018/19 season into the 2019/20 campaign brought with it little optimism as they were dumped out of the second tier European Challenge Cup in the pool stages and lost four of their opening five Premiership games.
While Blaze and part-time scrum coach Neil Fowkes have been added to the coaching ranks, Blackett, along with Costello, Gleeson and Everard, are survivors of darker times for Wasps in the not-so-distant past, which Blackett believes has helped fuse their working relationships.
He said: “We feel as a coaching group we’ve had some tough times recently and that’s the pleasing thing, we’ve come through the tough times and come through this together as a whole. We’ve been there through some dark days, you don’t need to go back but it makes you feel sick thinking about them, but some of those poor losses and poor performances we had, to come through the other side and come through it together and fight our way to how we ended the season, just tightened the bond even more so.”
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