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Baxter outlines Simmonds departure

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By Andrew Baldock
29/9/22

Rob Baxter says England international Sam Simmonds will leave Exeter with the club’s blessing.

Baxter has insisted there are no issues surrounding back-row forward Simmonds’ move to French champions Montpellier next season.

He is expected to be available for next year’s World Cup but after that will be ineligible to represent his country.

Saracens boss Mark McCall said on Tuesday that he believes the departure overseas of a player in his prime has wider implications for the Gallagher Premiership.

“I say that because Sam is 27, nearing his peak and is now making himself ineligible for England,” McCall said. “I kind of understand someone who is early 30s doing it after they’ve had their international career and want to experience something different. But to start losing the best young talent in the Premiership, someone like Sam, is a worry.”

Exeter rugby director Baxter, though, has adopted a philosophical stance.

“I think people sometimes get the wrong idea about this,” Baxter said. “I talk a lot to the players and staff in that you want people to be in an environment where they can thrive, work very hard, you want them to win and be successful for each other.

“The outcome of that is it means they are attractive propositions for other clubs who want a bit of that success. There are going to be some outcomes, and some of those are going to be that they are going to get big contract offers.

“It is not a negative when a player leaves you because someone wants them and can afford to pay them more than you can. It is negative when you fall out and a person moves for no positive reason at all. It’s very rare that happens here.

“Sam goes with our blessing for a great adventure, a great opportunity in France. He has still got a lot of good rugby left in him, and we had a long chat about it. He came to us first and explained. We haven’t been in massive, long, drawn-out contract debates about it. The figures are so far apart that there hasn’t really been a debate.”

The dire finances of Premiership clubs have resulted in the salary cap being reduced to £5million.

And, while necessary, reduced wages on offer to players has made it increasingly difficult for English clubs to compete with sides in France and Japan. The fear is that other members of Eddie Jones’ Test squad will follow Simmonds overseas.

The cap for Premiership clubs is due to return to £6.4m for the 2024-45 season.

Baxter added: “Even in the £6.4m cap, you could lose players, particularly to France. I suppose with a £5m cap, all of a sudden the attraction of staying in England lessens a little bit because of the difference in the figures.

“There is another argument that if England paid them more per game – that will cause some debate because England players are pretty well paid compared to some other nations – but that’s another way of bridging the gap. Players add up the whole package.

“It’s a challenge, and something that is going to happen for a little bit. But it is not keeping me awake at night. You have got to keep rolling.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


Premiership

Injury Update | Jack Singleton

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Gloucester Rugby

Following Saturday’s fixture with Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby can confirm Jack Singleton suffered a significant lower leg injury.

The hooker sustained the injury in a tackle in the 32nd minute of the Cherry & Whites’ win over the Saints.

Singleton underwent surgery on Monday evening and will now work closely with the Gloucester Rugby medical team during this rehabilitation period.

COO, Alex Brown, said:

“We’re all gutted for Jack. He’s an influential member of our squad, and clearly, we are disappointed to lose his quality from the pitch over the next few months.

“Whilst it’s still too early to pinpoint how quickly Jack will return, we know that he will be doing everything he can to make a full and swift recovery.”

Content & Images from – Gloucester Rugby


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Premiership

Cowan-Dickie to leave the Chiefs

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Exeter Chiefs

“Obviously, it’s a different competition, a different language – which I’ll have to learn – but I think it’s time for a change. Hopefully, I’ve still got plenty of years left in my career, but this is an opportunity for me to go over there and show what I am all about.”

Before now and the end of the season, Cowan-Dickie insists his sole focus is on the Chiefs and delivering performances to a club he says he will forever be grateful to.

“I’ve still lots to give here,” he added. “This is my club and I want to go out on a real high and win some trophies. It will be weird when the time comes to say my goodbyes, but for now I want to do all I can to ensure it finishes how I want it to.

“Since I arrived all those years ago, I’ve had some unbelievable memories and made friends for life. For me, this is the most important year of my Chiefs career because it’s my last. The club, the people, the supporters, they’ve all done so much for me and I’m excited to get out there and put my best foot forward.”

Among those to have helped nurture Cowan-Dickie – who has won 42 England caps and three for the Lions – from a raw rookie at Truro College to one of the world’s leading forwards have been the Chiefs coaching staff, whom he was quick to praise for their input.

“The early stages it was Robin Cowling and Ricky Pellow who did a lot for me,” he said. “Some of the things Robin made me do, like extra fitness, I still remember that now, but without them I wouldn’t be here now.

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby


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Premiership

‘We showed the strength in depth in the squad’: Declan Kidney’s post-Newcastle analysis

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London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney believes the quality throughout the squad was prevalent in Saturday’s Round 12 Gallagher Premiership win over Newcastle Falcons.

Being the Exiles first game at home in six weeks, Kidney’s men made it a homecoming to remember as his side registered five tries to win 39-17 at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Three of Irish’s scores were dotted down by replacements, and with the bench emptied in the second half, the boss duly credited the performances of his finishers on the day to come back from a four-point deficit.

Such was the challenge that Newcastle posed on the day, Falcons took the lead in the third quarter but the headstrong attitude of his Exiles on the day saw the home side to their second league win of the year.

“Being back at home is a big influence, we’ve been on the road for quite a few days, someone said it’s been 43 days since our last home game!

“It’s a difficult way to run a sporting business, but credit to everyone in the organisation to keep a safe track and it was great that we managed to get a result,” Kidney stated.

“The scoreline probably does Newcastle a little bit of an injustice but we stuck at it to the end and we’re delighted with the result, though we know there’s still room for improvement.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the boys, we had a few things thrown at us in terms of injury, but it shows the strength in depth of the squad and the boys came through.”

In Irish’s absence from their west London home, a winless run of form followed but the belief in the squad and their performances that picked up five losing bonus points this season shone through on the evening.

“Sport is a microcosm of life, there’s no point in getting down on yourselves and you have to work your way through it, and we done that.

“We were probably tentative in the first half; they had a couple of balls that rolled out to gave us field position back and it was tight for that first 50 minutes, but they came back strongly in those 10 or 15 minutes after half-time.

“It was at that stage we said, ‘let’s get going here’ and I thought we played really well from there on in.”

Out of possession, Irish shone in their defensive output with strong sets that repelled the visitors in key moments of the second half.

The Boys in Green maintained their standing as the league’s highest performing side in regards to tackling percentages, completing 140/155 (90.3%) attempts on the evening.

As well as their free-flowing scores, Kidney was keen to credit the squad’s mindset when faced with a Newcastle team looking for their fourth win of the Premiership season.

He explained: “It has always been that combination of both, Newcastle have been scoring for fun with some great tries so to hold them to two tries was a real pleasing aspect of the performance.

“Those sets were absolutely massive in the outcome of the game.

“The tries are good and we’ll never take them for granted because we do a lot of work on that, but there’s a lot of work that goes on beforehand too.

“Teams are inclined to tire themselves out, gaps will appear towards the end of the game and they’re renowned for taking those opportunities also.

“We had a couple of good defensive sets and managed to take our opportunities when they came our way.

“I could’ve said the same thing in the last few weeks whereby we didn’t take our opportunities and one or two defensive sets that let us down, but that’s the tightness in all the matches.”

The evening, a massive occasion for Irish in terms of the context of the season, also allowed for personal accolades.

Captain Matt Rogerson reached a century of appearances for London Irish, with front-row forward Oliver Hoskins also surpassing the 150 milestone.

“That’s what it means to Matt, Oliver Hoskins also had 150 appearances too so the attention must go to those boys as well.

“They’re two big milestones, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with those lads from the day I’ve arrived, and they are a credit to themselves, their families and their team.

“When you have boys like that in your team, you know that you’ll always be there or thereabouts.”

The Exiles now take a two-week break from domestic action, with a first Heineken Champions Cup berth in a decade beginning with the arrival of Montpellier Hérault this Friday.

The Top 14 champions bring with them a unique skillset, Kidney commented, that will be another exciting challenge for Irish.

“The importance of the last couple of weeks is that we have been learning to win, all credit to the players to do that.

“When you have that hunger the last few weeks can give you, that’s what can happen.

“What we need to do now is use that going forward, it’s a new competition this week with new challenges, a different type of opposition with a different way of playing.

“It’s a good place to be after Saturday, a special thanks must go out to the supporters after the last couple of weeks, they were great again and helped to bring us through in those defensive sets.

“It’s brilliant for us, it’s the first time we’ve been in the competition for a decade and we’re the opening match, so the games keep getting bigger and better.”

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


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