Exeter boss Baxter 'all over the place' after Champions Cup triumph
Bristol (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Rob Baxter said his emotions were "all over the place" as he praised his side's determination following their dramatic European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92 on Saturday.
A decade on from gaining promotion to the English Premiership with victory at Ashton Gate, Exeter were back at the Bristol ground to beat Racing 31-27 as they were crowned kings of Europe for the first time.
Both Exeter and Paris-based Racing scored four tries apiece in a match eventually settled by Chiefs captain Joe Simmonds' last-minute penalty.
There was yet more drama as officials checked to see if there was time for the game to restart before referee Nigel Owens blew the final whistle on a match played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.
No wonder director of rugby Baxter, a central figure in Exeter's rise, having made more than 300 appearances for the club, told reporters: "My emotions are all over the place, really.
"It was a funny game, wasn't it?"
"It kind of wasn't an Exeter Chiefs type of game, yet we ended up winning it. We didn't really piece the game together at all, really.
"In some ways it was some of our poorest attack and poorest defence of the season. The occasion itself was a little bit different to some of the other things we have experienced.
"But when we had to, we saw it through. We won the game by four points on the scoreboard, and that is pretty much what people will ever remember in three or four years' time.
"We've had our first go at a European semi-final and a final, and we've won them both. It is great for this group of players."
- 'Elusive double' -
The Parisians fell at the final hurdle for a third time since 2016 as half-back Teddy Iribaren and Finn Russell made costly mistakes including the Scotland fly-half throwing an interception pass.
Racing director of rugby Laurent Travers refused to point the finger at one individual after the defeat.
"There was a winner, it's not the one we wanted, we would have liked it was us but it's out of the question to say 'it's his or his fault'," Travers said.
"When the team win it's down to the team, when the team lose, it's down the team. It's what makes us strong," he added.
Exeter will become just the fourth English club to complete a domestic and European double-winning season if they beat Wasps in next Saturday's Premiership final at Twickenham but Baxter said: "I won't worry about the elusive double right now.
"The important thing is the lads get in the changing rooms and have a couple of lagers together.
"We have got to enjoy the moment and the bus ride home and savour the feeling. I would like to think that today's result and not playing as well as we could will free us up against Wasps and we can play better."
© 2020 AFP