Rob Baxter’s recognition in the New Year Honours list did not deter his players from taking him to task in the aftermath of Exeter’s collapse at Wasps.
The Chiefs face closest rivals Bristol at Sandy Park on Saturday a week after their perfect start to the Gallagher Premiership season hit the buffers with a 34-5 defeat at the Ricoh Arena.
Baxter reacted by stating that defeats are inevitable, serving as valuable learning tools that provide an opportunity for a team to display their resilience. His double winners took the result against Wasps more personally, however.
“The first thing that happened in our leaders’ meeting was that I was told off by them for saying it was OK to lose,” Baxter said.
“I asked them to explain what they meant and they said they were disappointed with my comments after the game that it was OK to lose.
“They didn’t think like that and that’s the standards we are now setting, which includes the view that we take to the field with an expectation that we should be winning the game.
“Of course, that takes a lot of hard work and an understanding for that to happen, but it was nice to hear that they demanded more of themselves and us as coaches.
“That kind of shows where the players are and how they want to bounce back immediately.”
Exeter travelled to Coventry without their international contingent but a host of them are back for Saturday’s title showdown, among them England trio Henry Slade, Jonny Hill and Luke Cowan-Dickie.
Bristol have also picked a strong team with flanker Ben Earl and prop Kyle Sinckler, both of whom played roles in England’s Autumn Nations Cup success, restored to the pack.
“Exeter have been outstanding – we’re up against the domestic and European champions,” Bears director of rugby Pat Lam said.
“I do run my mouth a bit"
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 8, 2021
“We’ve talked about challenges and this is a big challenge that we face. We’re excited by it.”
Newcastle are looking to bounce back from their first league defeat of the season against Bristol and director of rugby Dean Richards insists his Falcons will have to battle the elements as well as Gloucester.
“It’s going to be freezing cold, there’s been a bit of snow in the build-up and we’ll have to see what the weather throws up,” Richards said.
“That sometimes dictates what you are able to do, but hopefully we’ll see a good game of rugby.”
Gloucester are rooted to the foot of the table as they search for their second league win of the campaign.
Saturday’s third fixture became the fifth Premiership fixture this season to fall to coronavirus after an outbreak at Northampton forced the cancellation of the east midlands derby against Leicester.
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