Former England international Will Greenwood has predicted that Exeter Chiefs will struggle to make the top four in this season’s Gallagher Premiership.
Exeter have been one of the strongest teams in England over the last period of time, having reached the Premiership final for six consecutive years.
The Chiefs won two of those Premiership finals and also won the Heineken Champions Cup in 2020, to cap off a remarkable few years having only secured promotion from the Championship in 2010.
However, Greenwood was writing in his column for The Telegraph and predicted that Exeter’s golden years may be coming to an end, partially due to new laws which are being trialled by World Rugby.
Will Greenwood on Exeter Chiefs.
“What a great side for so long. And while they haven’t gone anywhere – I just wanted to jot down my admiration for this crew – I feel it might be a tricky season,” Woodward wrote.
“So many lads have delivered for so long to such a high standard that it will take all Rob Baxter’s cunning and guile to keep them hitting the high notes. The big worry for me is their seven-point gambles, opposition awareness, and the new laws.
“For so long once Exeter had territory, or a foothold, it was a guaranteed seven points and an opponent in the bin.
“Latching and pre-engagement laws make it harder to camp in the opponent’s 22. Teams are working out ways to keep Exeter out. Class outfit, class lads, but top four won’t come quite so easy this year.”
— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) September 19, 2021
Law trials may effect the Chiefs’ style of play.
Exeter have earned a reputation for being notoriously difficult to stop once they get close to the opposition try line, and often turn down opportunities at goal in favour of tap and goes.
However, new laws which are being trialled worldwide currently may hamper Exeter’s try-scoring exploits, as they will be more at risk of losing the ball in close quarters.
The new laws state that players latching onto a ball carrier must stay on their feet when their team mate is tackled, which means that the breakdown won’t be able to be sealed off legally anymore.
This means that attacking teams will be more vulnerable to being turned over when keeping the ball tight among the forwards near the try line, which could result in a major change in tactics from Exeter’s coaching team.