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'There isn't a director of rugby in the country who won't say this'

By PA
Henry Slade looks on dejected after the loss to Ireland /PA

And Baxter also claims that it feels “difficult to be a real supporter of the England team” due to current arrangements.

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A number of England players are set to miss several Premiership weekends this season because of international matches, squad training or designated rest periods.

And the Chiefs are likely to be affected, with players like Henry Slade, Sam Simmonds, Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie all currently important figures in England head coach Eddie Jones’ plans.

“The biggest argument that is becoming clear is for potentially fewer clubs in the Premiership,” Exeter rugby director Baxter said.

“And I am saying potentially as I don’t want to be one of these people who drops something out there and doesn’t back it up, as I think there needs to be a fair bit more research into it.

“But one thing that is becoming clear – and there isn’t a director of rugby in the country who won’t say this – the amount of Premiership games that clash with internationals, or international rest periods, is too much.

“It feels odd that we’ve allowed a system in this country that it has actually become quite difficult to have internationals, especially England players.

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“You do have to expect them to be away for more than half of your Premiership games. That’s if they don’t get injured.

“To me it becomes odd when you have a system where the clubs that provide the England players, it feels bad, difficult, to have too many.

“It feels difficult to be a real supporter of the England team. That is a bit of an odd system.”

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Baxter suggested that reducing the number of Premiership clubs from the current 13 could provide a solution.

“If you reduce the number of clubs, that becomes a lot more manageable,” he added.

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“The Premiership game remains high in people’s focus, most of the games they come and watch have the top players available, there won’t be players forced not to play, there won’t be six, seven, eight rounds without a sniff of an international player.

“Do you have people within the Premiership who think 13 clubs is too much? Yes, you do.

“And I’ve said from the start, we should have maintained promotion and relegation and we shouldn’t have taken the way out we did to go to 13 clubs.”

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