Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has hit out at the disciplinary process for dangerous tackles, after two of his key players received four-week bans.
Sam Skinner and Dave Ewers were both given four-week suspensions by the RFU after they were deemed to have made dangerous tackles during Exeter’s win against Sale Sharks on Saturday.
Chiefs lock Skinner was sent off for a dangerous tackle in the 53rd minute, while flanker Ewers had his yellow card upgraded to a red by the citing commissioner for a tackle he made in the 33rd minute of the match.
Baxter was speaking to the BBC about the recent high numbers of red cards handed out in the Gallagher Premiership, suggesting that players should speak out against the stricter rules around dangerous tackles.
📢 – @ExeterChiefs dealt double blow ahead of Saturday’s @premrugby semi-final after Dave Ewers and Sam Skinner hit with four-week suspensions following appearance before RFU disciplinary panel ⬇https://t.co/I3MLu9pLuo pic.twitter.com/3au1vTQAsL
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) June 16, 2021
“There is a huge amount of inconsistency and a lack of empathy for the players involved. The game needs to be about the players who are playing now, and it doesn’t feel like that at all,” Baxter said.
“There really needs to be a move by the players playing in the game to take hold of this, because if you ask a large swathe of the players who are playing now, I don’t think they would agree with what is currently happening.”
Chiefs hit hard by the loss of two starting players.
Exeter will play Sale again this Saturday in the Premiership play-offs, but will be without Skinner and Ewers for that game, as well as the final should they beat the Sharks.
Their absence will come as a major blow to the Chiefs, who are looking to retain their Premiership title.
While Baxter acknowledged that the recent clamp down on head height tackles has come partially as a result of former players urging authorities to attempt to lessen the number of head injuries, he believes many current players are growing increasingly frustrated.
Rob Baxter: ‘Current players should have a bigger say.’
“None of us are naive enough to not realise that this has come about based on movements by ex-players, which is fine,” Baxter commented.
“I don’t necessarily have a problem with it, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have a say in things, because of course they should because they’ve been playing the game.
“But the players who are playing the game [now] should also have an equal if not bigger say. I get a growing feeling amongst the players I talk to, not only at this club, that that’s something that’s not far off happening.”