Gutted to Miss European Rugby

Gutted to Miss European Rugby

While the Exeter Chiefs squad are enjoying the atmosphere of one of France’s big rugby cities, I am at home on the sofa.

The Chiefs open our Amlin Challenge Cup campaign in Perpignan and everyone at the club has been looking forward to it for a long time.

Unfortunately, I injured an ankle against Harlequins the other week and haven’t made it back in time for what would be one of the club’s biggest days.

It’s gutting. I had a taste of European rugby when we played Bourgoin at their place in front of a rowdy local crowd.

That will seem like small-fry if Perpignan’s ground is anywhere near full. It’s a real bear pit apparently and the side they will be sending out shows that they are taking the competition very seriously indeed.

There will be plenty of fans from Exeter making the trip and the players have already been winding me up by sending me pictures of the sort of things they are experiencing.

Not only will it be a big day for the players and fans to run out at the Stade Aime Giral – one of the Top 14’s most imposing venues - but it shows how far we have come as a club.

Having just come out of the Championship 18 months ago, European rugby is the next step up for us and any experience we can get of a competition like this, will only benefit us in the long run.

We would love to keep progressing and qualify for the Heineken Cup in the near future but, in the meantime, the Amlin Challenge Cup will be an exciting experience and, we really believe we have a chance of making progress if we play at our best.

As bad as it feels to be missing the trip, when I did the injury, it looked like I might be out for long time. As it was, the initial eight to 12-week diagnosis looks more like being three or four.

That still means there is some serious beasting to go from the club’s strength and conditioning staff, however. It’s a running joke here that if you are ‘weak enough’ to get injured, you get punished for it!

At least it means that we are all usually in pretty good shape by the time we are fit to play again.

In the meantime, I will just have to cheer the boys on from the sanctuary of the sofa. It will be a major test of resolve to stop jumping around the room on my bad ankle while I am watching.

You can follow the Amlin Cup and Heineken Cup via the ERC website.

Read more from Chris Whitehead at Living Rugby

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