With their current deals due to expire at the end of the current campaign, the Chiefs board have wasted little time in ensuring they have the futures of Baxter and his team of trusty lieutenants in place for the foreseeable future.
Baxter - who took over the running of the Chiefs in 2009 following the departure of former Director of Rugby, Pete Drewett - has been the lead figure in Exeter’s recent rise out of the Championship and into the Aviva Premiership and Europe.
Not only has he guided the club to two top six finishes in English rugby’s top tier, but he has steered the Devon outfit into the Heineken Cup on two different occasions; won the LV= Cup last term; and has even been part of an England coaching team who toured South America in 2013.
It has - even by his own stretch of imagination - been quite a journey in such a short space of time. However, Baxter has loved every minute of it and the fact he has done it alongside fellow coaches Ali Hepher, Rob Hunter, Ricky Pellow and Mark Twiggs has added to the whole experience.
Now, the 43-year-old is looking to extend that adventure even further having agreed a new three-year deal that will kick in at the end of the current season.
He said: “We talk a lot when we talk about recruiting players and retaining players that we don’t like a big turnover of players and we like to give a group time to mature together and develop together and in a lot of ways it’s very similar with coaches.
“We’d all like to think we’re better coaches this year than last year and we were better last year than the year before. That helps us. We’re a relatively young coaching group, we’re not guys lose to retirement by any means, and we’re happy to keep learning and keep developing. That works well for us as a club.
“From my perspective, I’m delighted to be signing a new deal but I’m even happier it’s the same group of coaches who are signing to stay here because ultimately they’re the guys who probably don’t get as much credit as they deserve for the success the team has because I’m the guy in the spotlight. They all work incredibly hard.”
With the Chiefs currently sitting second in the Premiership and top of both their LV= and European Challenge Cup pools, the work being carried out in the Sandy Park coaching den is clearly paying dividends.
Baxter added: “It doesn’t take a genius to see how well our forwards are performing this season and were improving last season and that’s down to a lot of the work Rob does.
“I think our attack has developed right from the start when Ali joined us in the Championship and has developed every year since. We haven’t looked like a team that wasn’t prepared to attack or afraid to lose games and that’s probably the single most important factor in our success in the Premiership – we’ve never been afraid to go out and try to win the game, and that’s it great for the players and given us the opportunity to win important games at our start in the Premiership. I can’t speak highly enough of the work those guys do.
“Ricky and Twiggsy are probably the unsung heroes in it all. They do a lot of the back room stuff. Ricky does skill development with pretty much every player at the club, he also does a lot of work with our academy but not just our senior academy here but right through to 12, 13, 14 year olds across Devon and Cornwall – he’s here, there and everywhere, the distance he covers is incredible and the amount of time he spends coaching.
“For a long time now we’ve backed Twiggsy and he spends a lot of time with the players because we want them to be big and fit and strong because it’s very important to us. If you look at the way we play, the metres the boys get through and our ball-in-play time in the Premiership, which is well above any other team, you can see we’re a well-conditioned outfit. He brings the best out of a lot of players.
“It’s a group that has got a nice balance and a group that I enjoy working with. I think we get on well. We have our odd bicker – Rob Hunter doesn’t like to sit between Ali and I on a match-day because he doesn’t like to interrupt the bickering that goes on between us – but I think that’s a good thing.
“Everyone’s prepared to speak their minds and everyone gets a say in what we do and hopefully everybody feels they’re an important part of the success of the rugby club.”
Member since: 10th July 2012
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