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'The players leaving don't owe the club anything'

By PA
(Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Exeter forwards coach Rob Hunter underlined the importance of home advantage after the Chiefs secured a Heineken Champions Cup last-16 tie in Devon.

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Exeter’s 40-3 victory over Castres guaranteed Exeter a top-four finish in Pool A after they collected a crucial bonus-point.

They were helped by Castres’ woeful indiscipline that saw number eight Feibyan Tukino sent off for a dangerous tackle just before half-time, while flankers Baptiste Delaporte and Mathieu Babillot were both yellow-carded, along with prop Aurelien Azar.

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It meant that the visitors were briefly reduced to 12 players, yet Exeter did not secure a five-point maximum until seven minutes from time through a second penalty try.

“It wasn’t straightforward. It has been a season of highs and lows so far,” Hunter said.

“It was a very erratic first half from both sides but I am very pleased with the way we stuck at it, shook ourselves off and finished with a flourish.

“It is really important to get that home draw. History would say that being at home in this competition is an important thing.

“From here on in you have just got to win the next game. Whoever we get will be pretty tough. We are passionate about Europe – it is such an amazing competition.

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“We love Europe and we want to stay in it for as long as we can.”

England internationals Henry Slade, Sam Simmonds and Jack Nowell also touched down, as did Wales forward Christ Tshiunza, in addition to a first-half penalty try, with Slade kicking two conversions and Joe Simmonds one.

Castres were restricted to an early Ben Botica penalty, and while it was a game that will not live long in the memory, 2020 European champions Exeter will feel relieved to have got the job done.

Tshiunza and his fellow Wales Six Nations squad member Dafydd Jenkins caught the eye with impressive displays, underlining huge roles they will play in Exeter’s future.

Chiefs stars Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Dave Ewers are confirmed departures at the end of this season, while Nowell also looks set to go, as could Joe Simmonds and prop Harry Williams.

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Hunter added: “Christ and Dafydd will continue to learn, so them going away with the Wales boys, they will learn a lot.

“Dafydd’s game understanding for a young guy is second to none, as is Christ’s athleticism. Christ running tries in is something I would like to see for the next 10 years.

“The players leaving don’t owe the club anything. They’ve had some tremendous successes here. We wish them the very best.

“It will be a very emotional farewell. They are a very tight-knit group, guys we have seen grow up together.

“It will be great for them to experience a different culture, a different country, a different team.”

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finn 7 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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