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The Exeter reaction to a Calcutta Cup that featured so many Chiefs

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

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Last Saturday was one of those crazy high and low days for Rob Baxter and Exeter. A Chiefs side missing a plethora of its established stars were pipped at the post by Wasps but that disappointment wasn’t allowed to linger for long as the full-time whistle at Sandy Park was followed by the switching on of television at the ground to watch live coverage of a Calcutta Cup match featuring a whopping seven Exeter players

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It wasn’t that long ago when Six Nations rugby was something that didn’t involve the Chiefs, the Test team selections being something taken up by players from other clubs. However, the recent success enjoyed by Exeter has seen them become a major influence on the international scene.

Fourteen different clubs – eleven Premiership, two URC and one Top 14 – were represented by the 46 players named in last Saturday’s respective matchday 23s at Murrayfield and Exeter provided the second biggest representation, their seven players (three Scots and four English) just two less than the nine Edinburgh provided solely to Scotland. 

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With Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Simmonds, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell all on deck with England and Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner lining out for the Scots, there wasn’t much time for Baxter and co to wallow in the disappointment of Exeter losing 27-26 to Wasps. If anything, the Premiership boss would have loved more of his platters to have been involved in the Six Nations opener.    

“It’s great for the club,” enthused Baxter, the long-serving Exeter coach. “It’s the highs and lows of a day. We walk off the pitch having lost with the clock in the red and you turn the TV on in the coaching room and you see seven of your lads stood there singing the national anthems. 

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“We are obviously fantastically proud of it. It is what you set out to achieve when you get in the Premiership. You want to have a team of guys who achieve their dreams and their dreams are winning trophies and playing for their country. That is what you have got to drive your club on and that is what we are going to continue to do. 

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“We are not going to run away from the fact that it can be a difficult season, particularly now if we go to 14 clubs and there is going to be a lot of clashes through the international periods. It is going to be increasingly difficult to manage your squad if you have got a number of internationals but playing rugby should be about trying to fulfil your dreams and we have got to try and keep making that happen.”

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