Wasps are learning from ‘mistakes in the past’ by doing all they can to retain its academy talent.
Since moving to the Ricoh Arena, Wasps have seen the likes of Will Stuart (Bath), Alex Lozowski (Saracens, Montpellier) and Piers O’Conor (Bristol Bears) leave to join other clubs early into their careers.
Look back a little further, and the likes of Billy Vunipola (Saracens) and Exeter Chiefs props Harry Williams and Alec Hepburn also spent time in Wasps’ youth ranks as did Jonah Holmes (Dragons) and Beno Obano (Bath).
That punishing trend appears to be turning a corner as Tim Cardall became the latest academy graduate to sign a new deal at the club this week. It ended speculation of a rumoured switch to Premiership rivals Gloucester this summer.
“We work so hard to get these younger guys through, it’s pretty difficult to see some of them go,” said Wasps head coach Lee Blackett. “We were always pretty confident. Tim is absolutely dedicated, he’s never shown a sign of wanting to leave this club, he’s Wasps through and through. He’s worked so hard to get to this stage where he’s playing quite a bit of rugby. It’s very exciting for us.”
Cardall followed the likes of Jacob Umaga, Jack Willis, Tom West, Gabriel Oghre, Tom Willis, Will Porter and Sam Spink as players who have progressed through the academy at Wasps and have agreed new senior deals in the past seven months.
There is the next wave of young stars also making an impact with Alfie Barbeary and Charlie Atkinson both earning England call-ups for their exploits while scrum-half Ollie Monye, who was in the same Wasps U18 team as Atkinson, is expected to be a travelling reserve for Wasps’ Gallagher Premiership clash with Northampton Saints.
“It’s key we get these people who come through the Wasps system, we want people who are passionate about the club and are Wasps through and through,” added Blackett. “It’s key we keep hold of them.
“We’ve maybe made mistakes in the past, we’re giving all the young guys great opportunities to get out there and play, we want them to play for this club for the next 10 years.”