PRESSURE; D-DAY FOR GIANTS RUGBY UNION English and Euro Conquerors Wasps Are on the Brink of Relegation & Administration. Today They Face the Biggest Game in Their History: Losing Is Not an Option

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX SPINK

FROM the mountains of Italy to the speed bumps of west London, the historic heartland of France to the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

England rugby greats, separated by distance, are today united by one thought - what is going on at the end of an industrial estate in High Wycombe.

For it is there that Wasps, the cash-strapped fallen giants of the English game, play Newcastle in a relegation decider they cannot afford to lose.

Club legend Lawrence Dallaglio will think of little else as he pedals south through Italy on Day 13 of his gruelling charity bike ride.

Former Wasps fly-half Alex King, now coaching French club Clermont Auvergne, will monitor score updates in Montferrand.

Adams Park favourite Paul Sackey will stay in touch from Paris, where he now plays for Stade Francais.

Matt Dawson, at home in the capital, will have "everything crossed".

"It's going to be a torrid 80 minutes," said World Cup winner Dawson, who spent the last two years of his glittering playing career at Wasps.

"And that's just for us former players and supporters. I feel anxious thinking about it. I was relegated with Northampton in the 1990s. I remember how terrible it felt.

The euphoria you feel when you are top of the league is nothing to the pain and misery you feel every single day you are down at the bottom. The pressure is enormous."

The fact of the matter is this: Wasps - English champions four times and European kings twice between 2003-08 - will go down if they suffer a bonus-point defeat or lose by a 24-point margin. …