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Why a day at the beach was just the tonic for 'heartbroken' Exeter

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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Rob Baxter has explained why he changed things up at Exeter training this week by taking his squad off to the beach in Exmouth on Monday to cleanse the mind following a run of three successive defeats. The Chiefs have lost successive matches to Montpellier, London Irish and Wasps, results that have left them with a tricky European tie versus Munster and a drop to eighth place in the Gallagher Premiership table.  

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It makes for quite a change in fortunes, Just 16 months ago the club moulded by Baxter were crowned double European and Premiership champions in a welter of excitement and the Exeter defence of those titles saw them reach the Champions Cup quarter-final and the Premiership final, their sixth successive appearance in the end-of-year Twickenham showpiece.

However, they now find themselves in an interesting situation. Because of their success under Baxter, they have had multiple Six Nations call-ups and it said much about how Exeter have really become a force on the international scene when they had seven players playing in last week’s Calcutta Cup clash between England and Scotland. 

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What that has meant is Exeter must now negotiate the weeks through to late March with a relatively inexperienced side and the sickening manner of their last-minute defeat at home to Wasps was an example of the emotions that are going to be involved.  

The key with it, according to Baxter, is for his youngsters not to get too hung up over losing provided they have lost in a certain way. “That is the biggest challenge for young players, the biggest thing for them to step over,” he explained. 

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“You can create that real great buzz environment and emotion when you are a young player and you can have that big game, but it’s this backing up process is part of that becoming a good player. Good players can find a way during the course of the week to physically and mentally get ready so we have talked a fair bit to these young guys.

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“That was why we had a bit of a different Monday (a ten minutes dip in the sea after breathing techniques, a bit of stretching, a bit of yoga and relaxation stuff), just let them have a bit of a recharge, a refresh, clear their minds from one week because they are going to have to lay it all out on the line this week against Gloucester.  

“So we have talked about the importance of that and there is nothing wrong with getting your heart broken. Getting your heart broken is one of the most important things you can do in sport because you are only really hurt if you have laid absolutely everything out on the field and you have lost. If you haven’t laid it all out there and you lose you have got nobody to blame but yourself. That is the truth. 

“If you don’t give everything you should never be heartbroken by it. We have talked about being heartbroken as a sportsman is one of the strongest things you can do and we got to be prepared to do it all again and the more we can do that then the better a team we will become.”

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