Exeter: Rob Baxter gives his ‘blessing’ to Sam Simmonds for Montpellier move

Dylan Coetzee
Exeter Chiefs Sam Simmonds looks on during a warm-up.

Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter says England star Sam Simmonds has the club’s blessing for his move to Top14 side Montpellier next season.

Simmonds will still be available for next year’s World Cup but will be ineligible for selection after that. The news prompted a response from Saracens boss Mark McCall as he expressed concerns about players going abroad.

Support for Simmonds

Baxter has taken a different stance and supports Simmonds on his new venture in the French top-flight despite losing a quality player.

“I think people sometimes get the wrong idea about this,” Baxter said.

“I talk a lot to the players and staff in that you want people to be in an environment where they can thrive, work very hard, you want them to win and be successful for each other.

“The outcome of that is it means they are attractive propositions for other clubs who want a bit of that success.

“There are going to be some outcomes, and some of those are going to be that they are going to get big contract offers.

“It is not a negative when a player leaves you because someone wants them and can afford to pay them more than you can.

“It is negative when you fall out and a person moves for no positive reason at all. It’s very rare that happens here.

“Sam goes with our blessing for a great adventure, a great opportunity in France.

“He has still got a lot of good rugby left in him, and we had a long chat about it.

“He came to us first and explained. We haven’t been in massive, long, drawn-out contract debates about it. The figures are so far apart that there hasn’t really been a debate.”

Unable to compete

However, Baxter admits even with the cap increasing next season, the prospect of losing players remains very real to English clubs.

“Even in the £6.4m cap, you could lose players, particularly to France.

“I suppose with a £5m cap, all of a sudden the attraction of staying in England lessens a little bit because of the difference in the figures.

“There is another argument that if England paid them more per game – that will cause some debate because England players are pretty well paid compared to some other nations – but that’s another way of bridging the gap. Players add up the whole package.

“It’s a challenge, and something that is going to happen for a little bit.

“But it is not keeping me awake at night. You have got to keep rolling.”

READ MORE: Premiership: Mark McCall feels Sam Simmonds move from Exeter to Montpellier is a concern for English clubs