Exeter's promotion 10 years ago
Posted by: shendy (IP Logged)
Date: 27 May, 2020 07:38

There's a piece on the BBC about Exeter's promotion to the Prem 10 years ago, beating Bristol in the two-leg playoff.

One thing they don't mention, which I clearly recall, is the huge amount of video analysis Exeter did after the first leg at Sandy Park.
They recorded the game using multiple cameras and spent the following week analysing the hell out of it - they said that they identified defensive flaws to exploit and a number of their moves, and it was a key part of their performance in the second leg at the Mem when they blew Bristol away.

I remember watching that game - I live in Bristol so took a keen interest in it, but was hugely impressed by Exeter's performance that day.

Re: Exeter's promotion 10 years ago
Posted by: tedge (IP Logged)
Date: 27 May, 2020 10:06

What has been, imo, notable about Chiefs is that they have sustained a high level of performance for 10 years. Their rise from the Championship in some way mirrored what Saints had done 2 years earlier when, following promotion they consistently improved for 7 seasons to the point where they became champions and then finished top the following season. The difference after that is obvious - the reason less so. What have Chiefs done that we failed to do and can they keep it going even longer ? I would rather we didn't get into disagreements on playing styles but concentrate on ethos, planning, recruitment and coaching. I also appreciate there may not be just one way to remain successful.

Re: Exeter's promotion 10 years ago
Posted by: LeicesterSaint (IP Logged)
Date: 27 May, 2020 10:22

There are probably quite a few more factors than this but off the top of my head;

1) Recruitment - Exeter seem to have done very well in this department with few 'headline' signings (until Hogg) but a very good record in picking up players who weren't rated or didn't perform that well at their previous clubs but they thought would fit well as well as the likes of Thomas the Tank who were at the tail end of a career but could still do a job for a few seasons while bringing on youngsters.
2) Playing style - I think Saints suffered from a combination of law changes (or emphasis in existing laws) and continuing with a game plan that didn't quite suit the squad as it developed. Take Tiny, Manoa etc out of team that relies on power plays and it doesn't work as well (with King Louis papering over some cracks for a while!). However Exeter have maintained a squad to fit their game plan - lots of big old units who carry well and lots of grafting players to make sure rucks etc are secured
3) Internationals - linked to the above but until fairly recently Exeter were largely untouched by international windows. By having a combination of players past international careers like TtT, not yet getting recognition or out of favour (Matt K?) you retain a lot of squad depth when others struggle (apart from Sarries but let's not pull that thread!). By contrast for a few years we lost quite a few to international duty and were perhaps more dependant on them than other squads. We lost leadership in Dylan, Wood and Courts and game breakers in Foden and North.

I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that but those points stand out to me.

Re: Exeter's promotion 10 years ago
Posted by: Gray_Lensman (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2020 09:13

What nobody now remembers is that Exeter nearly came unstuck in the pool stages. I suspect that wasn't part of of the meticulous plan. Just as scraping a narrow win in the home leg of the final probably wasn't part of a cunning plan so that they could film Bristol. The real reason they won is that Bristol were terrible! Now, it may well be that part of the reason for that is because Exeter had planned well and upped their game, but I was there and most of it was down to Bristol getting nervous and sticking rigidly to a game-plan that wasn't working. The one occasion a player looked up and played what was actually going on in front of him, Bristol scored. And then they went back to playing from the script. I have always suspected that the Bristol coaches and some players knew that the game was almost literally make or break (given that the club promptly went bust and almost out of existence afterwards) whereas Exeter knew they could come back for another go. Bristol were under pressure and failed to cope.

Exeter are touted as the great example for other sides to follow but so much of what underpins them is down to luck and factors that other clubs aren't in a position to replicate. And let's not go into how they are backed by one rich man and his company in much the same way as every other Premiership club.

I'm not saying they haven't done extraordinarily well and they are a fascinating contrast with Worcester who similarly came up through the leagues, well backed, gradually building and developing, but then constantly down at or near the bottom. Clearly there's a difference between the clubs, what it is I'm not sure. Can it all really be solely down to Rob Baxter? Is he the rugby equivalent of Brian Clough? I suppose we may find out when he finally goes.

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