Chiefs on international duty
- Credit: Phil Mingo/ppauk
There was a time when, for the Exeter Chiefs, the Six Nations provided a bit of a Brucie Bonus.
In the club’s earlier Premiership days, there were few internationals in the squad, which meant we would face somewhat depleted opposition whilst boasting a full contingent.
Such has been the progression of the Chiefs that we are now the ones who are at a disadvantage.
Over the weekend, key players including Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray, Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tomas Francis were on international duty.
It is particularly pleasing, then, to see the Chiefs notching up victories without some of their big names present.
Rob Baxter’s recruitment and retention process is yet again paying dividends and the home-grown talent continues to flourish.
In the squad against London Irish on Saturday were 20-year-old Josh Hodge, Richard Captsick (who was playing on his 21st birthday) ,and another 21-year-old, James Kenny.
And the result was no close-run thing with Exeter winning 26-3. There is some real strength and depth in the squad these days.
Harry Williams came back into the side after a stint with England and Alex Cuthbert returned after a long-term injury.
And when you have both Simmonds brothers on hand to pile over the line and kick the conversions, it’s clear that a lot of things have been, and are going, right!
What is also interesting, perversely, is the absence of foreign players in the Chiefs team.
Looking back, it’s incredible to see how far the club has come since we were promoted in 2010.
In those days we were a bunch of misfits, chancers and has-beens who Rob had given a second chance to.
But there was an ethos and spirit at the club that has endured until this day and the current outfit is genuinely world class.
Shortly after they lifted both the domestic and European trophies last year, club chairman Tony Rowe said: “I said that we’d do Europe in five years after the first Premiership title. How about we do the world in the next five? It would be nice to have a world club game.”
You’d have to be incredibly foolish to bet against that happening.