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Rob Baxter
Posted by: neale harvey
Date: 06/11/2017 16:24
Thought you might be interested in my column from yesterday's Sunday Indy. Don't normally post it but on this occasion I'll make an exception...

With attention in the last few weeks turning to who might succeed Eddie Jones as England head coach when the garrulous Australian quits the role after the 2019 World Cup, I can reassure Exeter fans that one name unlikely to be in the frame is Rob Baxter.
You would imagine that a man who has steered Chiefs so brilliantly from the Championship seven years ago to become Premiership title holders and serious players in Europe would be high on the list of the RFU bigwigs charged with making the appointment.
However, the powers-that-be seem wedded to the idea that their new man must have international coaching experience. And in any case, Rob himself seemed very cool about thrusting himself forward for the position when I quizzed him on the subject last week.
Asked whether he was at all interested in quitting his environment at Sandy Park and succeeding Jones, Rob told me: “I sit down with my wife, read articles about the England job and we have a chuckle because right now we don’t even think about it.
“I’m one of those guys – and I talk to my players about this as well – where it’s important to understand and know where things are good, where you’re appreciated, where there are things you can still work for and where things are important to you.
“For me, those things are at Exeter and they’re important things not to think about.
“I’m a proud Englishman who played for England Colts and would have loved to have been a good enough rugby player to play for England, so that part of it makes it very attractive to go, ‘Could I be the man who helps England win Test matches? It might be fantastic’.
“But is being the England head coach the thing I’m focussed on being? No, it isn’t. For me, it’s doing my job very, very well here that will give me the most satisfaction.”
Baxter added: “Is the England thing something that’s in future for me? I don’t know yet. I don’t know if that will become the most important thing for me in future.
“Right here and now, though, I’m certainly not someone who’s moving heaven and earth to place myself in a position so I can potentially be the new England coach.
“If I was doing that, I would already be looking at going to coach for a year or two in France, Ireland or wherever – and I’m certainly not doing that in the near future.
“In some ways, from what some people in the RFU are saying, I’m ruling myself out just by staying at Exeter. Maybe that’s the biggest statement I’m making on it.”
Seems fairly clear to me, so relax Exeter fans... for the timebeing at least.
Rob also had his say on the vexed subject of season structure at a time when there is talk of a players strike over what is being portrayed as a move by Premiership Rugby to extend the domestic season into June, making it ten months instead of nine.
Rob said: “The truth is we’re talking about extending the season by two weeks and there’ll be no change in the maximum game time players are allowed to play, but as clubs and Premiership Rugby we’ve failed to get hold of this message.
“The block of international games will be no bigger and in some years there’ll actually be a reduction in international matches, but it feels like the horse has bolted and everyone’s talking about ten or 11-month seasons when that’s not actually the case.
“There’s a two week push-on because some clashes with internationals will be removed and there’ll be opportunities for breaks during the season, but suddenly everyone’s debating the burnout it will cause when the facts are completely different.”
Baxter insists that clubs like Exeter already manage their players year-round and that moves to lengthen the season would be taken into account.
He added: “Even if the season did end up as 10 months, there’d be a period in the middle – maybe up to four or five weeks – where players can take time off and we need to get some strong messages out that we’re not expecting more game minutes.
“Good clubs manage their players over 12 months periods anyway, not just from the first game to the last and then start the routine all over again.
“If we have players away on international tours – England, the Lions or whatever – there’s no law saying we have to pick them for the first Premiership game the following season. If the way to manage them is not to pick them, we’ll do it.
“It’s a totally different way of looking at it and the reality is there aren’t many players now who put together three or four unbroken years with only tiny pre-seasons. Lots of guys get rests during the season but we’ve failed to properly explain it.”
Note to Premiership Rugby: Communicate!

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