England fly-half Danny Cipriani will be back in black and gold next season when he returns to Wasps, the club he started his career with as a schoolboy.
Cipriani said: “I’m excited about returning to Wasps next season. For me, it really does feel like coming home. In the professional era, players naturally move clubs more frequently than they used to, but I still feel such a strong connection with Wasps. It’s where I learned my trade, alongside incredible players like Lawrence Dallaglio, Joe Worsley, Alex King, Fraser Waters, Josh Lewsey and Paul Sackey.
"I have such good memories of that period in my life, I feel much more equipped to handle and deal with the expectation that comes when you put on the black and gold jersey. There’s something about Wasps which always draws you in. ‘Once a Wasp, always a Wasp’ is more than just a saying when you’ve been part of the club.
"I feel next season will be the right time for a new challenge, at a club which in my heart will always feel like a second home, where I know I will settle quickly.
“It’s brilliant to see how the club has re-built over the past couple of seasons. The potential of the squad that Dai [Young] has developed is really exciting and I have been impressed by the ambition Wasps has shown since Derek Richardson took over and stabilised things.
"I’m really looking forward to playing alongside guys I started my career with, like James Haskell, Joe Simpson, Christian Wade and Elliot Daly, in a squad that loves to play attacking, expansive rugby.”
After impressing for Wasps’ Academy while still at Whitgift School, Cipriani swiftly graduated to the senior squad and made his debut as a 17-year-old against Bristol in the 2004 Anglo-Welsh Cup.
He soon became an integral part of Wasps’ squad and also played a key role in Wasps’ 2007 European Cup campaign, starting the Final at full-back in a squad which also featured Wasps’ skipper James Haskell, the year Wasps were crowned European Champions for the second time.
Capitalising on his club form with Wasps, Cipriani burst onto the international scene aged 20, with a mesmerising performance on his first start for England, scoring 18 points during their 33-10 win over Ireland in the 2008 Six Nations.
Cipriani went on to make 95 appearances for Wasps, before moving to Australia to spend a season with the Melbourne Rebels (2011-12), returning to England in 2012 to join Sale Sharks, where his performances again earned international recognition.
He has won 14 caps and scored 64 points for his country, including a man of the match performance against the Barbarians in June of last year.
The experienced number ten is honing in on 1,000 Premiership points, having already bagged 973 in his 130 Premiership appearances during his career to date.
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young added: “We have always been keen for Danny to return to Wasps and I’m really pleased that our Wasps’ fans, many of whom supported Danny as a young lad here, will be able to see him in a Wasps’ shirt again.
“Everyone knows how talented a player Danny is and how much his game has developed since he made such an impact for England at a young age. As well as his obvious attacking attributes, Danny has matured as a player and controls the game well as a 10. At 28, there is still plenty more to come from him, so we are looking forward to seeing the contribution he will make in a Wasps’ shirt, alongside our other talented fly halves, in the exciting backline we have.”