Rob Baxter's surprising comments about the salary cap saga as Exeter face Saracens
Saracens are currently second in the league, seven points above Exeter, in their first season back in English rugby’s top flight after being relegated last year and fined more than £5million for persistent salary cap breaches.
Exeter lost the 2018 and 2019 Premiership finals to Saracens at Twickenham and they did not hold back in subsequent criticism of their fierce rivals as the full salary cap saga unfolded.
The teams meet at Sandy Park this weekend in what is a first Premiership game between them since September 2020.
And while Baxter does not deny the whole Saracens affair could be a motivation for some of his players, he also believes it is an episode that belongs in the past.
“It’s like anything in life, you can keep looking back on it and keep going ‘that wasn’t fair, that wasn’t fair’. It doesn’t do a lot of good now,” he said.
“I know we continually get brought up as the team, but there were 10 other Premiership clubs who were pretty annoyed as well.
“Now, we are all getting on with it.
“Saracens have done their time, and they are back, and we are all moving on under new salary cap regulations.”
They are unbeaten in the league since their solitary defeat – a 13-12 reversal against leaders Leicester – two months ago.
Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said: “It has been interesting, as all these away games we’ve gone to are ones we missed when we weren’t there.
“It has been great to go up to Welford Road, to Bath and play in front of full houses, and it is going to be the same against Exeter.
“I remember being asked before the first game of the season at Bristol where I thought we were, and I had no idea. We had to wait and see and get stuck into the games.
“I’ve been heartened that we are OK and pretty much up there.
“We are going to face Exeter at their best this weekend – they are probably going to have their strongest team of the season out, and will be at their most motivated.
“I think the Premiership is in a strong position this season. There have been so many results which people wouldn’t have predicted.
“There are teams beating each other, teams coming back in the last few minutes of matches to get two points from games, and everyone is fighting for everything.
“There have been loads of tight matches, loads of tries, so it is in a really healthy place.”
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