“100%, yr two is prime 4, and we can’t settle for something much less.” That’s the formidable intention of Exeter’s head coach Susie Appleby.
The newly-formed aspect had their highs and lows in a Covid-affected first season in Premier 15s rugby, however they had been actually not there simply to make up the numbers.
After a gradual begin as they began to gel – Exeter suffered 5 defeats of their first seven video games – they went on a seven-game successful run from the top of December.
In late January they inflicted a primary league loss on champions Saracens since October 2018 and beat runners-up Harlequins per week later.
However a dip on the finish of the season, attributable to accidents to key gamers, noticed Exeter end sixth with 10 wins from 18 video games, degree on factors with fifth-placed Gloucester-Hartpury – Appleby’s former aspect.
“I used to be happy general, however I am pissed off that we gave ourselves a shot after which missed out,” Appleby advised BBC Sport as she seemed again on her first season in cost.
“I have been on this league for 3 years, so I now how necessary bonus factors are, however I do not suppose the women had a grasp of it. However they do now.
“The women are very excited to get going once more in the summertime. There was tons achieved, however a little bit of disappointment ultimately which can set us up.”
Delight at England call-ups
Exeter’s inaugural squad was a mixture of homegrown potential and seasoned worldwide expertise.
The likes of United States gamers Kate Zackary and Gabby Cantorna, the Netherlands’ Linde van der Velden, Japanese prop Sachiko Kato, Spain scrum-half Patricia Garcia and Canada’s Taylor Black offered the spine.
However a gaggle of domestically recruited gamers stepped as much as the problem of taking part in top-flight rugby, with the membership getting their first England call-ups in Cornish full-back Merryn Doidge and 19-year-old scrum-half Flo Robinson.
“We’re so proud,” Appleby mentioned of the 2 England call-ups.
“Merryn’s at all times been on the radar. She performed at Bristol and are available up via Cornwall, however she’s actually blossomed this season and loved herself. And in case you get pleasure from your self you may do effectively.
“It wasn’t lip-service they had been choosing her – she’s earned the best to get into an England camp, and England have mentioned they’ve each been taking part in rather well and have since been picked once more.
“We wished to be aggressive and I knew the likes of Kate Zackery and Patricia Garcia would permit us to try this.
“However the pleasing factor gamers like Merryn and Flo, the younger gamers, have seemed as much as these gamers and mentioned ‘I need to do this’. They’ve watched what they do and so they’ve copied.”
‘The excitement will develop’
Exeter’s inaugural season was performed out through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tailored legal guidelines comparable to 35-minute halves had been used to minimise the unfold of the virus, which had brought on the earlier season to be declared null and void in March 2020.
Exeter’s girls had just one likelihood to play in entrance of a crowd – 1,141 individuals noticed them beat fellow new aspect Sale 38-0 in late December when spectators had been briefly allowed again into grounds earlier than Christmas.
However regardless of the dearth of probabilities to see the crew, Appleby feels Exeter have captured the creativeness of the followers.
“The help on social media has been immense, each right here and abroad,” she mentioned.
“Devon and Cornwall love rugby and love the Chiefs and do not care if it is males or girls taking part in.
“It was good to have that crowd in that day and the women actually felt it, and the gang actually appreciated them, however the unhappy level was that for essentially the most half no one was there
“I do know we’ll begin to get an increasing number of individuals via these doorways and the excitement will develop and we’ll present what Exeter Chiefs is.”
If Exeter can get large crowds and trigger extra upsets, who’s to say Appleby’s intention of creating the play-offs subsequent season shouldn’t be a practical ambition.