"Got What They Deserve" - Exeter DoR Rob Baxter Proud of his Chiefs Side Amidst Play-Off Push - Ruck

“Got What They Deserve” – Exeter DoR Rob Baxter Proud of his Chiefs Side Amidst Play-Off Push

By Louis Chapman-Coombe

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter doesn’t feel the top four is the be all and end all for his young group, despite the Chiefs remaining in the hunt for a late play-off push.

Baxter’s new-look group currently sit at seventh in the table; however, they are only five points behind third-placed Bath and a spot in the semi-finals. Whilst the top four is firmly in their reach, Baxter told members of the media today, how his focus is on the performances rather than where his side finishes at the end of the regular season.

“I don’t think [the top four] can be [the be all and end all]. What I want to see is us come off the pitch and know we’re heading in the right direction. I want to know these players are individually improving and improving as a team.”

Exeter Chiefs Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bristol Bears and Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate on 23 Apr. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

He added: “Some of the things we’ve talked about over the course of the season, they are there, they’re embedded in the team now. We’re not going to have to try and add that layer next season, we can move on. That’s the key, what we want to be able to do in this next pre-season is we want to move forward. We don’t want to be patching things up, we want to be moving forward, we want to be a progressive picture.”

The Chiefs are certainly going above and beyond what was expected of them this season. The exodus of front-line players last season left Baxter turning to the youth, who achieved a Champions Cup quarter-final, and could still make the Premiership semi-finals to boot.

Commenting on his team’s position right now, Baxter believes they’ve ‘got what they deserve’.

“The players have worked exceptionally hard. On the whole, they’ve probably got what they deserve. I think rugby is a game that’s very much like that, you tend to get what you deserve. The losses we’ve had, we probably deserve them and the wins we’ve had we deserve them.”

Try celebration for Jacques Vermeulen of Exeter Chiefs with Jack Yeandle of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers at Sandy Park, Exeter on 23th Dec 2023. Photo: Mat Mingo/PPAUK

He added: “I think that’s the important message we can put forward is that if we push on a little bit more and deserve a couple more results and look at what’s possible across the course of a season. Those are the things I’m talking about, it’s about understanding where those things happened, where they went right, where they went wrong and can we keep those lessons into play over these next two games.”

Exeter have had some big wins this season too in both the Premiership and in Europe. They downed Toulon away from home, and also recorded famous wins over Glasgow, Munster and Bath at Sandy Park. In the Premiership, the men from Devon also beat Saracens by a record-setting 60 points and drowned out Sale Sharks by an impressive 43 points.

Henry Slade of Exeter Chiefs kicks the penalty to win the match and Exeter Chiefs players celebrate the win during the Gallagher Premiership match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park, Exeter on 19th Nov 2023. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

“To knock over Toulon, to knock over Munster, to knock over Glasgow, who all would have had high expectations of progressing in the Champions Cup at the start of the season, that’s not easy in anybody’s book. We did that.”

He continued: “We’ve had some good results in the Premiership too, particularly at home. We’ve had a couple dogged away wins this season too, and with a couple more you really start to look like a challenging team. We are wanting to see those qualities come through over the next two games.”

As Baxter alluded too, he will be wanting his side to finish the season on a high with two wins, but that’s easier said than done. This weekend they face free-scoring Harlequins at Sandy Park, before ending their campaign with a tough away trip to Leicester Tigers. However, two wins could ultimately steer the aspiring young Chiefs into the play-offs and a shot at the 2023/24 Premiership title.