Champions Cup final: Exeter Chiefs ‘never go away’, says head coach Rob Baxter

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Exeter Chiefs celebrate
Exeter Chiefs won their first European title with a 31-27 win over Racing 92 at Ashton Gate

Exeter Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter said it was a “privilege” to be part of a club that “never goes away” after his side won the Champions Cup.

The Chiefs won 31-27 against French side Racing 92 in their first European final, 10 years after the club were playing in the English second tier.

Baxter, who played for Chiefs before taking over as head coach in 2009, said the club have always “stuck at it”.

“We have always just ticked along,” Baxter told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It’s not always been easy and there have been quite a few years in the Premiership where we have lost more games than we have won.

“Being part of a rugby cub that decides to stick at it no matter what comes at you is a real privilege. I played in two and coached two [Championship] finals that we lost at Twickenham, but we never went away.”

The game was played behind closed doors at Ashton Gate in Bristol and the 49-year-old Devonian said he became emotional while speaking to his wife on the phone after the full-time whistle.

“She was bawling,” added Baxter.

“It’s an amazing thing, she has watched me play in some pretty dire places compared to this.

“There were probably more tears for the lads today because people aren’t here and they are removed from them.”

The Chiefs opened up a healthy lead before Racing began to find their rhythm and eventually reduced the deficit to just one point with 10 minutes remaining.

Exeter lost replacement prop Tomas Francis to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on in the 71st minute, but Joe Simmonds’ penalty sealed victory with the final kick.

“We took a lead and it felt relatively comfortable and I was thinking ‘when are we going to start working?’,” said Baxter.

“I was concerned with the way we defended and I thought we defended as poorly today as we have done for a long time.

“But finals are about winning and by hook or by crook you need to be in front when the scoreboard ticks over.”

More to follow.

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