Exeter out to retain Euro crown to give fans party they missed due to pandemic

Exeter Chiefs are on a mission to retain the European Cup next year so their fans get to party like it’s 2020.

England’s champion club tomorrow launch the defence of a title they won for the first time only 57 days ago.

They went on to complete the double by adding the English Premiership a week later yet what was a stunning achievement passed without public celebration due to Covid restrictions.

For the first time since March the club welcome supporters into Sandy Park for the visit of Glasgow, with 2,000 season ticket holders allowed back.

And Chiefs star Sam Skinner revealed that the team are determined to give their rugby-starved faithful a taste of what they missed in lockdown.

He said: “We did the double and while there will have been great energy from afar from our fans who could not go out and socialise and live life properly, we missed out on a parade and sharing it with them.

“The whole South West would like to have celebrated in style, so it would make it extra special if we can do it all again this season.”

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has told his players they will need to adjust to having fans back.

Baxter warned: “The lads have kind of got used to going into their own zone with each other and just focusing on the game at hand.

“They’ll still have to do that, but they’ll need to be aware that there will be distractions about the place now.

“As a team we have to make sure we play in a way that generates that energy amongst the crowd that we can then feed off.”

Skinner says the message has hit home and believes the mental adjustments have been made.

“We are all human beings and you cannot help but notice the silence when you run out and constantly have to generate the energy yourself,” he said.

“The danger is we turn up and expect the crowd to bring all the energy for us. We know we have to put in a performance they are going to want to support and get behind.”

Chiefs make four changes to the side which started the final against Racing 92 at Bristol’s Ashton Gate in mid-October.

Olly Woodburn and Ollie Devoto come into the back line for Jack Nowell and Ian Whitten, with Skinner and captain Jack Yeandle starting up front ahead of England duo Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jonny Hill.

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