The last time an English side won European club rugby’s top prize, the final Harry Potter book hadn’t been released. When London Wasps beat Leicester Tigers on the 20th of May 2007, the iPhone was just five months old.
Since then the competition has been dominated by a Franco-Irish coalition of Munster, Leinster, Tolouse and Toulon.
With three of the four semi-finalists in this year’s Champions Cup being English clubs, there will be an English team contesting the final. As Saracens face Wasps and Leicester take on Racing Metro, there could well be a repeat of the 2007 final.
So what happened to the Wasps team that beat Leicester in Twickenham in 2007?
1. Tom French
The London-born loosehead prop made what would be a rare start for Wasps in the 2007 final. When French left the club in 2011 he had made 39 starts, 22 of which had come from the bench.
He was called up into the England Saxons squad in 2008 but never made a senior international appearance. He left Wasps for London Welsh in 2011.
2. Raphaël Ibañez
The first man to score a try in Ireland’s Croke Park, Ibañez took over the Wasps captaincy from Lawrence Dallaglio in 2008. His later career was symptomatic of many other front row forwards as he struggled with the cumulative effect of multiple head injuries.
Ibañez suffered a concussion early in the 2008/09 Premiership season against Worcester Warriors. A further two head injuries in the first half of the season saw him take a two-month leave of absence from the game. He ultimately failed to recover and continually suffered symptoms in training sessions. He announced his retirement on his 36th birthday.
3. Phil Vickery
Vickery left Gloucester to join Wasps in 2006. He went on to make 54 appearances for Wasps before retiring in 2010 due to a series of neck injuries. His last game for Wasps came at Kingsholm, Gloucester’s home ground, where he had spent eleven years of his career.
2011 saw Vickery win Celebrity Masterchef beating Kirsty Wark and Nick Pickard in the final. In May 2012 he was announced as the assistant forwards coach for Worcester Warriors. His contract was terminated after just one year following a coaching staff cull.
4. Simon Shaw
Shaw spent a total of 14 years at Wasps and became the first player to play 200 games in the Premiership. After three Lions tours and 306 appearances for Wasps, Shaw spent the remaining two years of his career at Toulon.
Since retiring from professional rugby Shaw became a director of Set Piece Events, who specialise in rugby hospitality.
5. Tom Palmer
Palmer joined Wasps in 2006 following the relegation of his first club Leeds Tykes. The 6′ 7″ London native quickly became Ian McGeechan’s first choice lock alongside Shaw.
He left Wasps in 2009 to join Stade Français where he spent two years before returning to Wasps for another two seasons. He currently plays for Pro 12 side Benneton Treviso.
6. Joe Worsley
Worsley played the entirety of his 18-year career with Wasps. England fans will remember his “tip tackle” on Vincent Clerc in the 2007 World Cup semi-final, which denied the French winger a definite try late on in the game.
He toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009. Two years later it was announced that he had been dropped from the England squad due to injury. Later that same year, Worsley retired from rugby due to a recurring neck injury. He now works at French Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles as their defensive coach.
7. Tom Rees
Rees emerged from Wasps’ academy in 2004 as a breakout star. He appeared in every single Six Nations game for England in 2007 and went to the World Cup in France the same year.
A combination of injury and the return to form of Lewis Moody, saw Rees fall out of favour. Rees’ career was blighted by injury thereafter. Three shoulder surgeries, as well as a plethora of knee problems resulted in his retirement in 2012.
8. Lawrence Dallaglio
Lorenzo Bruno Nero Dallaglio, to give him his full name, is another one-club man who started the 2007 final. In a career that spanned 18 years, Dallaglio captained his country as well as embarking on three Lions tours in 1997, 2001 and 2005.
Dallaglio’s last game for Wasps was their Premiership victory over Leicester in 2008. He was awarded an OBE shortly after his retirement. Dallaglio worked as an analyst during the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups and has taken up a similar role with BT Sport in recent times.
9. Eoin Reddan
one of the seven Irishmen who were involved for both sides that day, Reddan scored the opening try after 13 minutes. The Limerick man was brought to Wasps by former Ireland coach Warren Gatland and soon replaced Matt Dawson as first choice scrum half.
During the absence of Dallaglio for periods in 2008 and 2009, Reddan took over as captain. He left Wasps in 2009 to move to Leinster, where he won a further two Heineken Cups under Joe Schmidt.
10. Alex King
King joined Wasps in 1996, a full eleven years before their second Heineken Cup triumph. The Brighton-born outhalf scored 14 of the 25 points amassed by Wasps during the 2007 final. He left the club after that season to join French side Clermont Auvergne, where he finished his playing career in 2008.
He took up a position as backs coach for Clermont following his retirement. In 2013 King became Northampton Saints’ backs coach, where he remains.
11. Tom Voyce
Voyce left Bath in 2003 to join Wasps. He spent the next six years at the club, making a total of 124 appearances and scoring 215 points. Voyce once held the record for the quickest try in Premiership history after scoring against Gloucester in 2004 after just 9.63 seconds.
He moved to Gloucester in 2009 and then to London Welsh in 2012. After his retirement in 2013 Voyce went to work for foreign currency specialists Baydonhill FX. He now works with Investec Bank.
12. Josh Lewsey
Lewsey’s 12-year career saw him win Six Nations, World Cup, Heineken Cup and Premiership titles as well as representing the Lions in 2005. Since retiring from rugby he has joined former team mate Voyce in the financial services world.
Following his retirement in 2009, Lewsey took up a position as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse Cooper before joining Citigroup as an equity sales trader. 2013 saw him return to rugby as the interim CEO of Cornish Pirates. Later that year, he was appointed Head of Rugby with the Welsh Rugby Union.
13. Fraser Waters
Another Harrow alumnus, alongside Tom French, Waters was born in South Africa. Present for Wasps’ two Heineken Cup victories, he was Man of the Match in the 2007 final. He left Wasps in May 2008 to join Italian side Benneton Treviso. He retired from rugby in 2012.
14. Paul Sackey
Sackey joined Wasps in 2005 from London Irish and was immediately installed in the first choice 15. His 121 appearances for Wasps saw him score 43 tries. When his contract with Wasps expired in 2010, Sackey moved to the South of France to join Toulon.
His first and only season at Toulon saw him score six tries in 20 games. Despite that, Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal declared his performances unsatisfactory and he was released in May 2011. He spent the next two years in France with Stade Français before returning to the Premiership in 2013 with Harlequins.
15. Danny Cipriani
Reviled and revered in equal measure by England fans, Cipriani was another player to emerge from the Wasps’ academy. He spent a total of six years with Wasps before leaving in 2010 to try his hand in the southern hemisphere with the Rebels.
After one season down under, Cipriani returned to the Premiership with Sale Sharks. Once hailed as the second coming of Johnny Wilkinson, Cipriani has only amassed 14 caps for England during his career. It was recently announced that he would be returning to Wasps for the 2016/17 season.
Dáire O’Driscoll, Pundit Arena
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