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Taunton Titans head coach Tony Yapp had much to do with as he watched Exeter Chiefs win the Champions Cup this month
Yapp was watching at home and admitted feeling the nerves as Racing 92 pushed the Chiefs close in the final 10 minutes
Exeter has held firm, however, and has since added the Premiership crown to cap a brilliant season
Yapp played for the Chiefs, of course, before taking over as Taunton’s head coach in 2011/12
He is proud that Exeter has flown the flag for southwest rugby across Europe, telling the County Gazette: « It has created real excitement.
“Everyone knows the South West is a hotbed of rugby, and we’ve seen how well Exeter has done in recent years, but it’s also generating more interest in the area, and you see it with local clubs and on social networks
Two members of Exeter’s triumphant squad also have a relationship with Taunton, trained by Yapp in Hyde Park
Yapp said: “Joe [Simmonds] came [in 2015/16] as an academy player, and while it would be hard to say at the time that he was destined for the top, he learned. quickly and worked hard, and was a lovely boy too – so you wish him success
“To be captain of a European trophy team at his age is quite extraordinary
“Sam [Skinner] was not involved in the Exeter academy when he came to us [in 2013/14] – in fact he came to see us as a last resort before leaving on a trip.
« But thanks to Chris Brown [forwards coach at Taunton] we directed him to Exeter and the University of Exeter, and watching him grow from there was great. »
Ben Moon also made a stint at Taunton in 2007/08 after playing with Yapp early in his career.
“They all showed the value of hard work and we enjoyed working with them at Taunton,” Yapp added.
« You used to play for your home side, and if you were successful enough you had to move to a bigger club, but it’s different now
“There are so many good academy players now, but they need the experience to play
“We have a good relationship with Exeter and good ties thanks to Julian Salvi and Keith Brooking
« Giving players the experience of playing National League rugby is something we appreciate, but we are still our own club.
« We have to make sure we keep our own identity – and not become Exeter’s 2nd XV – so we’re looking to add a pinch of Exeter players to what we already have at the club. »
Unfortunately, Taunton is unable to play competitive matches until January 2021 at the earliest, due to Covid-19 restrictions
But Yapp and his players continue to train, as he explained: “We currently train one night a week, as we have been doing since August, if only for the mental health of the players!
« We can’t use the showers or the changing rooms at the club, but we can play tactile rugby, a little football, run and just get together as a team
“We have about 40 players present for each session which is great to see
« It’s always strange to have won promotion to National 1 and not had a chance to celebrate, so we can’t wait to play again. »
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Exeter Chiefs, Jonny Hill, England, England national rugby union team, European Rugby Champions Cup
World news – GB – Yapp welcomes Chiefs’ European triumph
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