Rob Baxter challenges jersey Exeter to play like Premiership

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On the eve of a new Premiership season, here is a little quiz question: how many Authentic Tony Sanchez Womens Jersey different clubs have topped the English table and/or won the title in the past 14 years? The answer* is at the bottom of the page: suffice to say it is higher than you think. Predictable is seldom a word applied to the world’s tightest league and 2017-18 will be no different.Partly it is a reflection of the ever‑shifting tectonic plates shaping rugby’s economics; nothing is guaranteed to last for ever, as the southern hemisphere’s leading nations are discovering. In these islands last season, two relatively unstarry teams, Exeter Chiefs and Scarlets, scooped the two major prizes from beneath the noses of their wealthier, higher-profile rivals. In 10 years’ time, when TV money is driving the global game even harder than it already is, what price the plucky provincial underdogs still having their noses in front?
It is a tricky balance, which every club is pondering. No longer is simply chugging along in lower mid-table, safe from relegation but in no danger of challenging the top four, a viable strategy. Even a cursory glance at this year’s squads suggests virtually all are stronger than 12 months ago. “This is the terrifying time of the year,” says Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, surveying a bristling field all keen to cut the Chiefs back down to size.
The received wisdom is that the champions, who kick off at Gloucester evening, will find it tough to repeat their epic feat.
Then again, no one tipped them to beat all-comers last time. They also underestimate the driving Authentic Tony Sanchez Youth Jersey forces beneath Exeter’s steady rise: the intense competition for starting places, the depth and collective spirit generated by their ever-churning academy system and consistently shrewd management. “We all felt we could beat teams, even when we were points down,” said their fly-half and cup final match-winner, Gareth Steenson. “That’s the way we’ve got to approach this season, too.”This is not to say the Chiefs are nailed on for a successful defence, merely that they are the last people to sit back and assume it will happen. Baxter will have noted that just two clubs – Leicester and Saracens – have won back-to-back titles in the past decade but sees no automatic reason why his all-action men will melt meekly away. “A lot of people talk about the added pressure because teams come after you,” he says. “The reality is it’s quite good when you’re English champions ... a lot of good things happen when you’re winners.“It’s scary competitive but we’ve got to remember what made us good last season: sticking at what we did and sticking at it longer Authentic Mookie Wilson Womens Jersey than the opposition could stop us. Ultimately those were the main lessons we learned. There are very few short cuts or easy ways to win games of rugby. Going the hard way pays off sooner or later and we’ve got to make sure we remember that.
”Not since 2008-09, furthermore, have a champion team finished outside the top four the next season and the Chiefs’ fixture list looks beautifully weighted, the awkward opening night aside. A softly-softly start at Kingsholm is improbable, not that Baxter and his lieutenants Ali Hepher (now head coach), Rob Hunter and Ricky Pellow want it any other way. “I want us to go up there, throw some punches, get ourselves into the game and see what playing in the Premiership is like when you are currently the top team in England,” says Baxter. “We are not going to be a team scared of losing a game or scared of what people will say if we don’t win just because we were champions last year.”
Nor do Exeter believe scouring the globe for big non-English names is the best route to success; not for them the marquee player scramble of Saracens, Leicester, Wasps, Northampton and Bath. “We’re not necessarily looking to go out there and buy finished products,” says Baxter. “Whether that’s a scenario we can keep having success with, particularly in Europe, I don’t know. But Authentic Noah Syndergaard Womens Jersey it seems to work for us and it’s not necessarily a business model we’re desperate to change.”
So will this be the season of Exeter’s Sam Simmonds, Sale’s Tom Curry, Bath’s Sam Underhill, Harlequins’ Will Collier and assorted other promising young homegrown talent or will, say, Leicester’s stellar backline and Saracens’ European Cup-winning stars reassert control? The same top four as last season in a slightly reshuffled order is my domestic prediction but the battle will be no less intense around the basement. A personal hunch is that London Irish will surprise a few while Worcester, the bookmakers’ other supposed main relegation contender, will be no pushovers either.
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