Exeter boss Rob Baxter has drawn a line under the red-faced finish suffered by Joe Simmonds in last weekend’s Gallagher Premiership defeat. With Chiefs down by a point, Northampton players charged down a conversion attempt to win the game in a bizarre fashion.
There were initial arguments that what Saints did was illegal but they were proven to be within their rights to race from the try line and kick the ball away off the tee as Simmonds had taken a slight step after he initially set himself to take the kick.
Once a player originally sets himself, the opposition can run forward when he next moves and this is what Northampton did after seeing Simmonds take a slight step and stop after he had already composed himself for the kick.
The mishap consigned defending champions Exeter to their third Premiership defeat in their last six outings but Baxter avoided criticising his young out-half when he revisited the incident on Tuesday three days after it took place. “He [Simmonds] has taken it okay,” reported Baxter when asked if the fall-out from how Exeter lost their latest match had affected his player given it has been much-talked-about and debated online since it happened.
“The only advice I gave him on Saturday – and I don’t think it works that much in the modern age – I said, ‘Just give yourself a 48-hour break off social media, don’t go thinking you have got to work out what everyone is saying about it because everyone will have something different to say’. But it is very difficult for young guys now to be like that.
100 per cent correct. https://t.co/vgowIRSm41
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 21, 2021
“He has been fine in training, he was on his toes. The one thing that he knows is we have no problems about it. It was a genuine mistake. When you actually stop and think about it it’s never a right time for someone to learn something. He has done it, it’s not a big deal but he knows why he did it.
“He felt he had not quite set himself initially in the right place and then made a small adjustment and it’s something he will make sure he will not do again. It’s not that big a deal. It would have been an incredible kick if he had got it over.
“All the mistakes we made in that game, the smallest of the mistakes we made was Joe at the end. We make mistakes all the way through the game. At the end of the day, we won pretty much every stat apart from the scoreboard. In those conditions to have control of possession and territory like we did should win you the game.
“The only thing he will change in his kicking style is making sure he doesn’t do an adjustment before he kicks. He has learned that lesson. It’s not something he does. It was a little bit like the whole game wrapped up in one thing, wasn’t it? There were quite a few things happening in the game that wasn’t quite us and they got wrapped up in that final moment,” continued Baxter, adding the incident won’t leave Simmonds scarred long-term.
“If you stop and look at Joe’s career with us to date, how would you describe it? You would describe Joe’s career as being on an upward curve and that is relatively unusual for a young ten. Normally, with young players, you have got to be prepared to take a little bit of pain. We have taken relatively little pain with him.
“I don’t see this as being a big deal and his history to date says he takes wins and losses in his stride and he continually looks to improve and drive this team. There is no reason for me to have any worries about him.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 23, 2021
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