After no one gave 14-man Wasps hope against Toulouse, Alfie Barbeary's army defy the odds 

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After no one gave 14-man Wasps hope against kings of Europe Toulouse, Alfie Barbeary’s army defy the odds to deliver one of the finest results of the Lee Blackett era

  • Wasps overcame a man advantage to defeat Toulouse in the Heineken Cup 
  • Jacob Umaga received a red card for a tackle on scrum-half Martin Page Relo
  • Wasps also had to deal with a swath of absences with 19 players missing


On this evidence, Alfie Barbeary’s toothless grin will become a familiar sight over the next few weeks. Half a dozen of Wasps’ mishmash squad could have been named man of the match but it was the young forward who shone brightest in this famous victory over Toulouse.

Galvanised by Jacob Umaga’s 34th-minute red card, Wasps overcame the odds to outmuscle the European champions.

Few gave the hosts a hope. They were missing 19 players and almost had to forfeit the match during the week due to the absence of three loosehead props. 

Alfie Barbeary was named man of the match as Wasps overcame the odds to bear Toulouse

Alfie Barbeary was named man of the match as Wasps overcame the odds to bear Toulouse

Yet there was something special in the air in Coventry — and it was not the whiff of fumes from the dual carriageway. The likes of Tim Cardall, Biyi Alo, Jimmy Gopperth and Paolo Odogwu — making his first appearance for eight months — all rallied behind Barbeary to deliver one of the finest results of the Lee Blackett era.

‘You want to test these guys against the best, don’t you?’ said Blackett.

‘You could see what Alfie was made of today. I still think there is loads of room for him to improve, I really do, but he is delivering the big moments. Coming up with big moments at big times — that is what you want from your players.’

Wasps played more than a half a man down after Jacob Umaga received red in the 34th minute

Wasps played more than a half a man down after Jacob Umaga received red in the 34th minute

As far as timing goes, Barbeary could not have picked a better weekend to deliver his big moments, three days before Eddie Jones names his Six Nations squad. Wasps trailed inside two minutes, and a sense of inevitability whirled around the stadium, as Francois Cros steamed over for an early try.

The youngsters could have caved in, yet from that moment they barely gave an inch. Until his harsh red card for a head-on-head collision with Martin Page Relo, Umaga was one of the standout performers. His cute kicking and smart defensive reads provided the platform for two early tries, with Alo and Brad Shields driving over to put Wasps in front.

‘Probably two minutes before the red card, I was up there in the coaching box talking about how well he had gone,’ said Blackett. ‘He was outstanding. I thought he gave us a real edge at 15 and unfortunately we are sat here and we are looking at another ban. Obviously, he is gutted.

Wasps also had 19 players unavailable going into the game and almost had to forfeit the game

Wasps also had 19 players unavailable going into the game and almost had to forfeit the game

‘When you go down to 14 men, especially when it’s someone in the backfield, you have to manage the game. We had some young players out there and I’m really proud of how we did that.’

Despite being a man down in the backfield, Wasps scrambled to kill off the attacking threats of Romain Ntamack, Matthis Lebel and Pita Ahki. They tackled powerfully from corner to corner, filling the backfield to leave no space for searching kicks.

In the front row, Alo, Rodrigo Martinez and Dan Frost got underneath the giant Toulouse pack to earn penalties from the scrum, with Thomas Ramos and Gopperth exchanging three-pointers.

Emmanuel Meafou scored a last-gasp try for Toulouse but it wasn't enough to stop Wasps' win

 Emmanuel Meafou scored a last-gasp try for Toulouse but it wasn’t enough to stop Wasps’ win

With 56 minutes on the clock, Barbeary delivered one of his big moments. Carrying the ball from the base of the scrum, he palmed off defenders like a pneumatic fly swat, before Anthony Jelonch flew in with a shoulder to the head. It appeared more dangerous than Umaga’s earlier collision, but the referee’s sanction was mitigated down from a red to yellow card due to a dip in height.

Toulouse’s attack was limited to driving mauls, with Peato Mauvaka narrowing the deficit to five points. The French enjoyed a spell of territory, but their attack was sniffed out by a Barbeary turnover. He demonstrated his all-court ability with a kick and interception, as well as a burrowing try to restore Wasps’ two-score lead.

After repelling another wave of attacks, Wasps had the opportunity to go for the bonus-point try. They may live to regret turning down the opportunity for three points but, despite Emmanuel Meafou’s last-gasp try, nothing was going to wipe the smile off the Wasps’ faces.

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