Emotional Rob Baxter laments wife’s absence from Exeter’s great day

Emotional Rob Baxter laments wife’s absence from Exeter’s great day

Sam Simmonds, named European player of the year after Exeter defeated Racing 92 to win the Champions Cup, has his sights on a double as the Chiefs celebrated what their head coach, Rob Baxter, called the greatest achievement in the Devon club’s history.

“This is massive for us,” said Simmonds, whose brother Joe captained the side and kicked the late penalty that ended Racing’s comeback. “We have the chance of a double next week when we play in the Premiership final and that would be a huge achievement for us having lost the last couple.”

Some players were in tears after the final whistle, something Baxter, who took Exeter from the Championship in 2010 at the end of his first season in charge, put down to the lack of friends and family at the ground. He phoned his wife, Jo, before the trophy presentation and admitted he became emotional.

“Jo has been with me my whole career and seen the highs and lows,” he said. “The cruellest thing was that our families were not here to share such an achievement and that is why there was a bit of emotion at the end. We could not share the moment.

“It was a funny game, not an Exeter Chiefs one at all. In some ways it was our poorest attacking and defensive display of the season. The occasion makes you do things, but in a final it is not the performance that matters but the scoreboard.

“The last 10 minutes were horrible to watch. They seemed to go on forever. We fought for every inch and the players got what they deserved. They can enjoy the weekend before thinking about the Premiership final. I am sure we will play better against Wasps. We were nervy and cagey at times and I would like to think we will free ourselves up next week.”

Stuart Hogg said the triumph justified his decision to leave Glasgow in search of success at club level. “I am a boy living the dream,” the full-back said. “I had the opportunity to come here and express myself and I am loving it. We are going to enjoy this before turning our attention to next weekend.”